Bulgaria vs. Czech Republic, 2014 World Cup qualifying: Preview and TV schedule

Shaun Botterill

Bulgaria hold a slender advantage over the Czech Republic coming into the final round of World Cup qualifiers. Victory for either side doesn't necessarily guarantee a playoff place.

Group B is delicately poised. As many as four teams still have a chance of finishing second. Bulgaria and Denmark come into their final matches a point better off than the Czechs and Armenia.

Only eight of the nine runners-up will advance to the playoffs.The second placed team with the lowest number of points scored will miss out. Sounds pretty straightforward in theory. However, this is where things get a bit complicated. With Group I having one less team, UEFA came up with a rankings system which discounts results that teams get against the sixth placed sides to try and make things fairer. Confused? Yes. As things stand, this group currently seems to be the unlucky one due to how results have played out. Because Armenia are the only team in the group to have dropped points against bottom placed Malta, they stand the best chance of netting a playoff place should they pull off a famous victory and finish second. For the other teams in the group, the outlook doesn't look as good.

Interim Czech boss Josef Pesice saw his reign get off to a good start with a 4-1 victory over Malta on Friday night. Other results also fell kindly, with Italy holding Denmark to a draw and Armenia upsetting Bulgaria 2-1.

Bulgaria are unbeaten at home during this campaign, after picking up two wins and two draws. Meanwhile, the Czechs have picked up seven of their 12 points on the road. The reverse fixture petered out to a 0-0 draw last October.

Lyuboslav Penev's side will need to have better discipline if they want a victory in Sofia. Defender Nikolay Bodurov and midfielder Svetoslav Dyakov will both be suspended after seeing red against Armenia. Aleksandar Tonev will be the danger man in midfield, with Ivelin Popov the main source of goals in attack.

Tomas Rosicky misses out again for the Czechs. The Arsenal midfielder pulled out of the squad before the Malta game to treat a calf injury initially picked up in the defeat to Italy last month. Confidence will be high in the Czech camp after attacking trio David Lafata, Vaclav Kadlec and Tomas Pekhart all got on the scoresheet in Friday's victory.

Match Date/Time: Tuesday, 8:15 p.m. local, 2:15 p.m. ET

Venue: Vasil Levski Stadion, Sofia, Bulgaria


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