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Malta v Bulgaria background

Malta have cause for optimism as they seek a first victory in qualifying Group H, having drawn 1-1 against their visitors, Bulgaria, in Sofia back in November.

Malta will aim to build on an encouraging result in Sofia as they welcome Bulgaria, who are looking to make positive progress in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying Group H under their new coach.

Previous meetings
Malta's 12 matches against Bulgaria have ended W0 D3 L9 (W0 D2 L4 in Malta), but a 1-1 draw in Sofia in November represented a major breakthrough for Pietro Ghedin – and prompted the departure of Bulgaria coach Luboslav Penev.

• The sides first came together in their only previous UEFA European Championship encounters, in qualifying for the 1976 finals. On 11 June 1975, Stoyan Ormandzhiev's Bulgaria beat Terenzio Polverini's Malta 5-0 in Sofia, with goals from Borislav Dimitrov (2), Georgi Denev (22), Pavel Panov (25), Hristo Bonev (68) and Kiril Milanov (71). Panov (69) and Stoyan Yordanov (88) scored in the return fixture on 21 December 1975, a 2-0 win at Empire Stadium in Gzira.

• The teams have been paired in three FIFA World Cup qualifying campaigns – for the 2002, 2006 and 2014 editions. In those most recent games, Penev's Bulgaria beat Ghedin's Malta 6-0 in Sofia on 22 March 2013, Alexandar Tonev scoring his first three international goals (6, 38, 68) and Ivelin Popov (47), Emil Gargorov (55) and Ivan Ivanov (78) also weighing in.

• The return leg in Ta' Qali was closer, Radoslav Dimitrov (9) and Gargorov (59) scoring for the visitors, before Edward Herrera (78) gave Malta some late hope.

Form guide
Malta are yet to win in five Group H outings; the only goal of their campaign so far was Clayton Failla's equaliser from the penalty spot in Sofia.

Bulgaria are without a victory in four Group H matches since kicking off with a 2-1 win in Azerbaijan, though a 2-2 draw against Italy in their last game – their first under new coach Ivaylo Petev – was a positive result.

Malta had not won since November 2013 before a 2-0 friendly win against Lithuania on Monday 8 June. They have not prevailed in nine competitive fixtures (D1 L8) since a 1-0 victory in Armenia in World Cup qualifying in June 2013.

Trivia and links
Malta goalkeeper Justin Haber played club football in Bulgaria with PFC Dobrudzha Dobrich in 1998.

Bulgaria midfielder Mihail Alexandrov turns 26 on the eve of the Malta game.

Bulgaria midfielder Georgi Milanov was fouled 19 times in the first half of the qualifying campaign – more than any other player in the competition.

• The nations' nine meetings in UEFA youth and age-group competitions have ended W7 D2 L0 to the Bulgarian teams, with the most recent encounter a 1-1 UEFA European Under-21 Championship draw in Ta' Qali on 11 October 2005.

• Clubs from the two countries have crossed paths nine times in UEFA competition, with the Bulgarian sides victorious in all nine matches. Most recently, PFC Litex Lovech beat Sliema Wanderers FC 7-0 on aggregate in the first qualifying round of the 2007/08 UEFA Cup.