Bosnia & Herzegovina Preview – Dzeko Holds The Key
World Cup 2014
Bosnia & Herzegovina ride the crest of a wave on their journey to Brazil after qualifying for their maiden major tournament. With the likes of Dzeko, Ibisevic and Pjanic, they could go well.
Three successive wins culminating in a 1-0 triumph over Liechtenstein secured top spot in UEFA Group G for Bosnia & Herzegovina. Since then, however, there have been a couple of 2-0 international friendly defeats, the first unashamedly to Argentina, but the second slightly disconcertingly against Egypt.
The performance was decidedly poor and prompted mass criticism from fans, journalists and even the players. An indication of just how badly things can go wrong for this exciting-but-fragile Bosnia side.
As poor as they were against Egypt they were, by contrast, just as impressive in qualification. 10 games, eight wins, just one defeat, 30 goals scored and only six conceded meant that Safet Sušić’s side topped their group by virtue of goal difference from Greece – 16-goals better goal difference at that.
Edin Džeko was the second top goalscorer in all of European qualification with 10 goals scored throughout the campaign, closely followed by Stuttgart’s Vedad Ibišević who managed eight goals.
Bosnia boss Sušić openly admits to having only 12 or 13 good players to choose from, so options are somewhat limited. Much is made of their sometimes excessively attacking style but Sušić retorts that he has to play to his team’s strengths in the shape of Džeko and Ibišević.
This – a major international tournament – will be a new experience for every one of these Bosnian players, so it will be important that the management and coaching staff hit the right tone and keep everyone on side throughout the couple of months they are together as a group spending each day in close confines.
At least avoiding a heavy defeat will be important for Bosnia & Herzegovina in their first game against Argentina, but their second game against Nigeria will probably determine their fate in terms of wether they qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament or not.
If the Nigeria game ends level and it comes down to goal difference then their natural attacking instincts will come to the fore when they play Iran in the final group game.
At odds of 8/11 I think that Bosnia & Herzegovina are a solid bet to qualify for the last 16. The defensive fragilities are a concern and could see them come unstuck against the top quality sides, but their attacking class should be enough to see them beat both Nigeria and Iran and secure a top 2 finish in Group F.
There’s also a good bet to be had in the market for the top Bosnian goalscorer at this summer’s tournament. Dzeko is priced at odds of 6/4 here and although Ibisevic will run him close the Manchester City striker is a standout price.