Euro 2004 Qualifier: Bulgaria---Croatia
Euro 2004 Qualifier Preview: Bulgaria v Croatia
Bulgaria - Croatia | Latest News | Match Preview | News Archive
Krasimir Balakov (Reuters)
Buoyed by their excellent Group 8 opening win away to Belgium, the Bulgarians will be in high spirits when they play host to Croatia in an intriguing Euro 2004 qualifier which will mark the official opening of the renovated national stadium, Vasil Levski.
Further speaking in favour of the Bulgarians is that coach Plamen Markov only has one player unavailable to him on Saturday, that being AEK Athens midfielder Milen Petkov, who injured himself during his club side's recent Champions League clash with Real Madrid.
"I do have to admit that Bulgaria are favourites for this match," said Croatia coach Otto Baric. "They have had the same team for years now and they look good. But, nevertheless, I am an optimist because we are missing only one player, and I have everyone else I need."
Juventus defender Igor Tudor will be back in the heart of Croatia's defense after having been forced to sit out the World Cup due to injury and he is rearing to get his side qualification campaign on track following their disappointing opening draw at home to Estonia. The uncompromising centre-back also showed himself to be in more confident mood than his coach.
"We are better than Bulgaria and we need to get a result," he said. "They have a good team, but we are determined to give it our best. The atmosphere in the squad is perfect and I can assure you that the setback against Estonia didn't shake our confidence at all."
Bulgaria: Zdravkov, Ivankov, Kishishev, Pazin, Petkov, Kirilov, Zagorcic, Stoyanov, G Petrov, Stilian Petrov, Peev, Balakov, Svetoslav Petrov, M Petrov, Manchev, Jankovic, Ivanov, Berbatov, Dimitrov, Chilikov.
Croatia: Pletikosa, Butina, Simic, Kovac, Tudor, Zivkovic, Tokic, Tomas, Rapaic, Babic, Leko, Vugrinec, Stanic, Tapalovic, S Maric, Mikic, Djolonga, Boksic, M Maric, Olic.
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