Let’s talk about soccer now with the 2012 Euro Qualifying games in full throat. Let’s preview a game that features a team that went to the World Cup. Switzerland is one of the best defensive teams in the world, but they have been disappointing in the qualifying stages with only 3 points under their belts. They are currently tied with the team they are facing today- Bulgaria- for 3rd place in Group G. They are definitely looking for a win here.
First, let us analyze Bulgaria’s team. Goalkeeper Nikolay Mihaylov is a mediocre 22 year old that is prone to rash decisions. Left back Chavdar Yankov is another subpar player, and right back Petr Zanev is a terrible player. They won’t get forward to a good degree, and things will look a little bit bleak on the supporting areas of the flanks. Switzerland can easily get by them on that front. Stanislav Manolev is an average center back that is the only worthy player on Bulgaria’s defense. Fellow center back Ivan Ivanov is a horrible player that can be easily exploited.
Ivelin Popov and Blagoy Georgiev are mediocre players on the flanks, and they are both better than the defenders on the flanks. Popov is a young, quick winger while Georgiev is the veteran of the two. Stanislav Angelov is old and poor in the center of the pitch, but fellow veteran center mid Stiliyan Petrov is the team’s best player. He is a good player that sets up his teammates well and is easily the best attacking threat for Bulgaria. Dimitar Angelov and Dimitar Makriev are two poor strikers that won’t trouble Switzerland.
Now, on to the Swiss team that is plagued with injuries. Marco Wolfli will have to play in place for star goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, who is the key and best player on the team. Wolfli is an average keeper overall. Stephan Lichtsteiner of Lazio and Pirmin Schwegler of Frankfurt are a nice tandem on the flanks for Switzerland. I see them dominating the poor Bulgarian’s out wide. Lichtsteiner could be in for a big day.
The Ajax CB Stephane Grichting and Steve Von Bergen make up a solid tandem in the heart of the defense. They will be able to easily deal with the Dimitars. The young wingers Valon Behrami and Valentin Stocker will have their way on the wings, and they will really wreak havoc on Bulgaria. Gokhan Inler is a very important cog for Switzerland, and he is the counter to Bulgaria’s Petrov. Blerim Dzemaili is an average center midfielder. Marco Streller and Alexander Frei are two decent strikers that will cause some troubles for Bulgaria.
Even with the injuries and poor play of late, Switzerland is still the better team. I see them winning 2-0 with two second half goals from Inler and Frei. I think Bulgaria will be exposed on the flanks, and their horrible attacking doesn’t compare well to the legendary defending of this Swiss side. Switzerland beat the champions in the World Cup, so they should be able to cope with the Bulgarians even through injuries, poor streaks and all.