Bulgaria 0-1 France World Cup score and team news: match report, goals, action
A solitary Blaise Matuidi goal in the first half was enough to seal all three points for France as they move back ahead of Sweden at the top of their World Cup qualifying group. Jamaica vs USA: Gold Cup live
Bulgaria 0-1 France
France beat Bulgaria in Sofia on Saturday night thanks to a goal by Blaise Matuidi early in the first half that set them on their way. After Sweden destroyed Luxembourg earlier in the day by eight goals to nil, France needed a win to move back top of their group.
Didier Deschamps went with a front line of Antoine Griezmann, Alexandre Lacazette and Kylian Mbappé but the three failed to impress as France struggled to really break down the home side apart from the goal.
It came in the third minute when Digne crossed to Griezmann who stabbed it to Matuidi and he drove his shot from an awkward angle into the side of the net as it looked like Bulgaria might have been on the receiving end of a proper beating. That failed to transpire however.
Neither side really looked like scoring as Bulgaria had one on target after that and so did France.
France will play Belarus in their final game on Tuesday knowing a win will lead them to Russia. Sweden play Netherlands away and if the French slip up with a Sweden win, it means a likely playoff for the Euro 2016 winners.
Live Bulgaria vs France live stream online: as it happened
Bulgaria v France live stream online: preview
Mathematically, four teams could still qualify automatically from Group A, the most tightly packed of the European qualifying sections. France, who top the group and Sweden, who are just one point behind them are the best placed to finish in the top two positions but looking at these final two fixtures, the group will likely be resolved when the final games are played on Tuesday.
Didier Deschamps' France must win both of their final two qualifiers to be guaranteed a place at 2018 World Cup Russia. Les Bleus sit in pole position on 17 points having lost just once in the qualifying round – had Ola Toivonen’s stoppage-time shot not crossed the line in the June meeting with Sweden, Deschamps' troops would already have booked their tickets for next summer’s finals. France have otherwise enjoyed a perfect campaign. They had no problems in their home meeting with Bulgaria – even after going behind to Mihail Aleksandrov’s sixth-minute penalty, they had the game wrapped up in under an hour with goals from Kevin Gameiro, Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann.
Not that Deschamps will be in any way underestimating Bulgaria who still have an outside chance of knocking Sweden out of second and will be keen to treat their fans to another sweet victory at the Vasil Levski National stadium where they have beaten all of their group rivals – Belarus, Holland and Sweden.
Bulgaria team news
Coach Petar Hubchev is without midfield pair Ivelin Popov and Ivaylo Chochev who are suspended but otherwise has a full squad to select his team.
Man to watch: Georgi Kostadinov. Curiously, Bulgaria’s 13 goals in qualifying have come from 10 different players so Hubchev has goal scorers throughout his team but is without top scorer Popov. Maccabi Haifa midfielder Kostadinov made his debut against France in the October 2016 meeting in Paris and has impressed in all of the five matches he has played since then and is averaging 0.50 goals per game after finding the net against Belarus, Sweden and Holland.
France team news
Deschamps drafted in centre-back Adil Rami after Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny pulled out of the squad with an Achilles problem and Jordan Amavi was recruited a couple of days ago to replace Layvin Kurzawa who sprained his left knee in Monday’s training session. He is also missing Benjamin Mendy, Paul Pogba and Ousmane Dembélé are also out with long-term injuries. The big question is who will line up in attack - Mbappé could get the nod ahead of Kevin Gameiro and Giroud. We'll see...
Man to watch: Kylian Mbappé. The teenage forward has been averageing just under 0.5 goals per game since his summer move to Paris Saint-Germain. He scored after coming on as a second half sub in the 4-0 win over Holland in August. He has already shown to have a good understanding with the rest of France's forwards and is always in the right place at the right time.
Bulgaria v France live stream online: possible line-ups
Bulgaria: Iliev; Manolev, Chorbadzhiyski, Bozhikov, Zanev, Slavchev, Mimitrov, Nedelev, Kostadinov, Milanov, Dimitrov.
France: Lloris; Sidibé, Umtiti, Varane, Digne; Tolisso, Matuidi, Kanté; Lacazette, Griezmann, Mbappé.
Live Bulgaria v France enhanced betting odds:
France are favourites in spite of being the away team at the formidable Vasil Levski stadium, Deschamps’ team is at 14/1 to win with odds at 6/1 for the game to end in a draw. Griezmann is 3/1 to score the opening goal and Raphaël Varane is at 20/1 to get his name on the scoresheet. Bulgaria’s Kostadinov is at 28/1 to score the first or the last goal of the game