Thus far, Group H of qualifying for the 2016 European Championships has gone more or less as expected. Croatia and Italy have been the best two teams, while an intriguing Norway squad has been close behind. The rest of the group? Not so good.
So now with Croatia and Norway facing off head on Saturday, Italy have been given an opportunity to take the top spot in the group for themselves. They're currently dead even on points with Croatia, but facing Bulgaria gives them a chance to gain an edge over their rivals.
Bulgaria aren't a bad team by any stretch of the imagination, but they're not on the same level as the the top trio in the group. They've won just one point at home so far in the group stage, and that's not something that's looking to improve now. This Italy side under Antonio Conte is still finding its feet, with the manager feeling out his best combinations of players, but there're no denying one thing: they're just plain better than Bulgaria.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Bulgaria: Stoyanov; Manolev, Popov, Milanov, Minev; Dyakov, Zlatinski; Milanov, Popov, Aleksandrov; Galabinov
Italy: Buffon; Ranocchia, Bonucci, Chiellini; Darmian, Verratti, Candreva, Parolo, Pasqual; Immobile, Zaza
At A Glance
Bulgaria: 4th; 1W 1D 2L; 4 GF, 5 GA; Group Form: DWWW
Italy: 2nd; 3W 1D 0L; 6 GF, 2 GA; Group Form: DWWW
TV: ESPN Deportes (U.S. - Spanish), Sportsnet regional networks (Canada), BNT 1 (Bulgaria), RAI Uno (Italy), Sky Sports Red Button (U.K.)
Online: ESPN3 (U.S.), Sportsnet World Now (Canada), Sky Go (U.K.)
Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, we'll have a match thread live here for discussion of the game at hand. You can also follow along with us live on Twitter, and we'll have updates of the most important events on our Facebook page, which you should definitely like.