A tale of two Petrovs

Posted on September 3, 2010


By Tim Harris

Stiliyan and Martin Petrov could prove strong assets for Bulgaria that England should heed this evening.

BULGARIA, as a nation, is hardly renowned for its production of world class footballers.  And following Dimitar Berbatov’s recent retirement from the international game, it could be tempting to completely overlook Bulgaria’s other resources.

However, when Bulgaria line up tonight; familiar figures will be seen in the form of Stiliyan and Martin Petrov.

Stiliyan Petrov - An established talent in the Premier League

Both men are 31 years of age and hardly new faces to the football pitch.  That said; it would be foolishly unwise for Fabio Capello’s men to underestimate the threat they pose.

Stiliyan Petrov is probably best remembered in most recent memory (by Aston Villa fans at least), for his long-range wonder goal against Derby in 2008.

And the Villa captain, who will also pull the armband on for his country this evening, is a natural born leader.  His organisational skills and knowledge of the game give him a distinct edge.

Martin Petrov also presents a significant danger that England should recognise.

The fast-paced winger has proven his worth at Manchester City in recent seasons; where he made the left flank his own, and caused havoc for many Premiership defences.

Petrov has recently completed his transfer from City to Bolton; which was partially a consequence of the influx of expensive talent now arriving at Eastlands.

Martin Petrov has scored a healthy number of goals for his nation, and has found the net at some crucial times.

Ironically, Petrov’s international debut actually came against England, eleven years ago in a Euro 2000 qualifier.

But with déjà-vu aside, the experienced Bulgarian should not be overlooked when the referee’s whistle commences the match this evening.

Another name on the team-sheet that may ring bells is Ivelin Popov.

Blackburn attempted to sign the attack-minded midfielder this summer; but a failed work permit kept him from joining the Rovers.

Ivelin Popov is fast collecting caps for Bulgaria

The 22-year-old, while tender in years, has useful attributes to his game.  It might be worth Matthew Upson noting down his shirt number.

Bulgaria have only qualified twice for the European Championships since the tournament’s inception in 1960.

Therefore as an outfit, they don’t offer a genuine concern for The Three Lions.  But the abilities of individual players must be contained if England are to ensure that Bulgaria don’t cause an upset.

On paper, even without Terry or Ferdinand, England’s defence should withhold both Petrovs and Popov without breaking a sweat.

But as the old saying goes – ‘The game isn’t played on paper’.