Argentina v Bosnia – Goals Galore?
Argentina v Bosnia
Bosnia & Herzegovina’s World Cup debut as they take on one of the tournament favourites, Argentina. Here is where I try and spot the value.
After topping CONEMBOL qualification with nine wins, five draws and 35 goals scored from their 16 games Argentina arrive in Brazil as one of the deserved tournament favourites. A couple of solid wins in testing warm-up matches against Trinidad & Tobago (3-0) and Slovenia (2-0) will also stand Alejandro Sabella’s men in good stead.
Lionel Messi was on the scoresheet in the Slovenia win, adding to the 10 goals that he netted throughout the qualification process. Gonzalo Higuain scored nine goals in qualifying with Sergio Aguero getting five and Ángel di María, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Maxi Rodríguez all scoring three each. There are plenty of goals in this Argentine side and they can be expected to go far in the tournament.
Bosnia’s debut on the biggest of stage will be a daunting one, but not one that is beyond them. After topping UEFA Group G with 25 points and a goal difference of +24 (16 better than second place Greece who had the same number of points) Safet Sušić’s men arrive in Brazil with every chance of reaching the knockout stages.
Wins against Ivory Coast (2-1) and Mexico (1-0) in recent friendlies show that this Bosnian side are more than capable of mixing it with teams on the world stage, but weather they can cut it with the very best – such as Argentina – remains to be seen.
All-time top scorer Edin Džeko scored both goals in the Ivory Coast win, adding to the 10 he scored in qualification. Vedad Ibiševic scored eight and Zvjezdan Misimović got five in qualifying, offering evidence that they are not overly reliant on the Manchester City forward.
Striker Gonzalo Higuain is Argentina’s main injury concern going into this game. The Napoli striker has been nursing an ankle injury for the past few weeks. Rodrigo Palacio also sat out training on Thursday following a knock picked up in the game against Trinidad, but should be available for this one.
Bosnia & Herzegovina midfielder Sejad Salihovic is a major doubt after picking up a muscle injury in training that could possibly rule him out of the entire group stages.
Head to Head
The two teams met as recently as November of last year, just a few weeks before the draw for the finals was made. Argentina emerged as 2-0 winners on that night thanks to a goal in each half from Sergio Aguero. The only other previous meeting, back in May 1998, ended 5-0 in favour of the South Americans.
Argentina are deserved favourites at odds of 4/9 but, like Brazil on Thursday night against Croatia, can be expected to encounter some stiff resilience, particularly in the early exchanges.
Draw/Argentina looks a good bet at odds of 3/1 in the HT/FT market, while the half-time draw is also appealing at odds of 13/10.
Both sides have plenty of goals in them and each have managers that like to attack, which should make for an entertaining game. Over 2.5 goals is priced at odds of 4/5, but I’d suggest taking the 11/5 on there being more than 3.5 goals in the game.