Bulgaria vs Italy – Match preview and team news

Italy will be looking for a fourth win from five Euro 2016 qualifying fixtures when they travel to Sofia to face Bulgaria, who have just the one victory thus far.

After an opening success over Norway and unconvincing performances in beating Azerbaijan and Malta, the 2012 finalists dropped points for the first time in Group H when they were held at home by Croatia in a game marred by crowd trouble.

It was a disappointing effort from Antonio Conte’s side as Croatia dominated the encounter almost from start to finish, although their goal came as a result of a rare mistake from Gianluigi Buffon. In attack Italy misfired, and as it stands they sit second in the group on goal difference, with Norway just a point behind in third.

The hugely experienced Italian defence continue to prove a tough nut to crack, while in attack there are high hopes for Ciro Immobile, who has 10 goals for Borussia Dortmund this season. He is set to line up alongside rising Sassuolo star Simone Zaza in a team without three key midfielders. Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi and Claudio Marchisio all miss out through injury.

Bulgaria have not qualified for a major tournament since Euro 2014, but their World Cup 2014 campaign was their best effort since. They have a new manager in the shape of Ivaylo Petev, who was appointed in November and takes charge of his first competitive match. Several of their squad plays in Italy, including former Manchester City striker Valeri Bojinov.

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