Bulgaria v Wales: Expect a snooze-fest in Sofia

Ryan Giggs
Ryan Giggs' side have failed to score in their two games in the current international window.

Goals have been in short supply in recent times for both Bulgaria and Wales and Andy Schooler isn't expecting many when they meet in the Nations League on Wednesday.

"Both teams have had a goalless first half in every Nations League match so far."

Back 0-0 to be the half-time score @ 7/52.44

Bulgaria v Wales
Wednesday October 14, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Football and S4C

Wales winning - but not sparkling

Wales' goalless draw in Dublin at the weekend didn't exactly set the pulse racing and the fear must be that something similarly drab unfolds in Bulgaria on Wednesday night.

It might actually suit Wales. They have ground out two wins and a draw in the Nations League so far to sit top of their group, this despite failing to impress in any of their games.

An opening 1-0 win in Finland was an admirable result but they really struggled to break down the Bulgarians at home last month, requiring a 94th-minute goal to end the deadlock and earn three more points.

A 3-0 friendly defeat to England last week was followed by the trip to Dublin so this will be their third successive away game and one was may prove trickier than Bulgaria's position at the foot of the pool suggests.

Even with Gareth Bale in their side, Wales lacked a cutting edge in the reverse fixture and that pattern has continued in this window with two blanks drawn so far.

Bale won't play here. Neither will striker Kieffer Moore or midfielder Joe Morrell - both are suspended.

1280 Kieffer Moore Wales.jpg

At the back, Chris Mepham remains a doubt, while regular centre-back Tom Lockyer didn't make the initial squad due to injury.

Boss Ryan Giggs did at least have Aaron Ramsey back against Ireland but it was telling that the first thing he mentioned about that display was that "getting back to clean sheets is pleasing".

Of the teams to qualify for Euro 2020 (or 2021, take your pick) so far, Wales were the lowest scorers, finding the net just 10 times in eight qualifiers. They only conceded six.

With just two goals in their three Nations League games thus far, this campaign is following a similar pattern and points the way towards a lack of goals in this one.

Bulgarians struggle for goals

Bulgaria have similar traits - they struggle to score many but are usually pretty tight at the back, as they showed in Cardiff.

They managed just six goals in eight Euro qualifiers and while they conceded 17 times, 10 of those were to England, the current favourites to win next summer's finals.

Bulgaria won't play in that tournament after a disappointing 3-1 home defeat to Hungary in the play-offs last week so their focus is back on this competition and avoiding relegation to League C.

They lost 2-0 in Finland on Sunday but in their only home match so far held Ireland to a 1-1 draw. The Irish only scored in the last minute too.

Low-scoring affair beckons

Essentially this looks highly likely to be a low-scoring affair.

Since their 6-0 home humbling by England last year, five of Bulgaria's six games have featured less than three goals.

As for Wales, they've gone under the 2.5 goals line in nine of their 11 competitive matches.

Sadly, the layers are firmly clued up with under 2.5 offered at just 40/851.48.

Under 1.5 is at 6/42.54 but gives little wriggle room and the historical stats aren't so strong.

Instead, turn to the half-time score market where 0-0 at the break is available to back at 7/52.44.

Both teams have had a goalless first half in every Nations League match so far.

Given how tepid Wales were in Dublin and how the reverse fixture unfolded, this looks perfectly plausible and a decent angle.

Welsh look opposable

In the match betting, Wales are favourites at 11/102.14 but with key men missing throughout their team, they look opposable.

They really didn't create much at all in Dublin - indeed the home side could easily have won given a couple of the chances they carved out - and if Bulgaria are able to replicate their compact defensive effort of a month or so ago, there could be an upset.

The hosts, 100/304.3 for the win, showed against Ireland how they are able to compete at this level and a low-scoring victory for Bulgaria should not be ruled out.

Their coach, Georgi Dermendzhiev, made eight changes against Finland so many of his best XI, fielded in that crucial Euro play-off last Thursday, look set to return here.

In a game in which goals look hard to come by, a 1-0 home victory may be worth a punt at 17/29.6 in the correct-score market.

Cards value?

Finally, the card markets will be worth a glance once they go up closer to kick-off with Wales to collect the most booking points potentially a bet.

They've picked up 20+ in 10 of their last 11 competitive games (plus last week's friendly at Wembley), whereas Bulgaria have just one card in four matches this season.

A crowd of up to 8,500 will be in attendance too to put some pressure on the referee.

Any such bet is obviously price dependent but I suspect Wales will be bigger than they should be.

Click here for more Nations League previews and tips

Andy Schooler's P/L 2020/21

Staked: 18.5pts
Returned: 10.74pts
P/L: -7.76pts

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