Mark O’Haire’s Euro 2016 Tips – Bosnia & Herzegovina v Wales
Bosnia v Wales
Wales only appearance at a major tournament came 57 years ago. The 1958 World Cup remains the Dragons’ solitary experience of big-time football but Chris Coleman’s charges can qualify for their first ever European Championship with a point in Bosnia on Saturday.
Bosnia & Herzegovina v Wales, Saturday 10 October 2015, 19.45, Sky Sports 2
With Andorra still to visit Cardiff, qualification should be all but assured but should Israel fail to see off Cyprus this weekend, a place at Euro 2016 will be confirmed in Zenica no matter what result the Welsh achieve.
Bosnia Desperate For Points
Hosts Bosnia made a rotten start to life in Group B, taking just two points from a possible 12. That terrible total has ensured Mehmed Bazdarevic’s men will miss out on a top-two finish but sitting just two points adrift of third-placed Israel, the play-offs are still well within range.
With Israel expected to beat Cyprus on home soil, Bosnia simply have to go all out for the win to keep their qualification hopes alive. The Golden Lilies have been boosted by the fitness of Edin Dzeko – scorer of seven goals in seven Euro 2016 qualification games – but Muhamed Besic is suspended.
Bosnia have been chalked up as 20/23 favourites for this showdown, which does look a little tight from the outset. However, it’s worth noting that the 2014 World Cup finalists have W6-D1-L2 at home in their past two qualifying campaigns. Cyprus and Slovakia were surprise away winners.
The Golden Lilies kept only two clean sheets during those nine outings and that should at least give Wales hope of notching in Zenica. Coleman’s troops, who recently moved to an all-time high of eight in the FIFA rankings, head Group B and are so far unbeaten (W5-D3-L0). Throw in friendly internationals and the visitors have W7-D5-L1 in their last 13 fixtures.
Wales’ Immovable Defence
The Dragons boast an outstanding W3-D1-L0 return in their four previous qualifying road trips, conceding just once. And it’s that defence that’s proven pivotal for Coleman – having kept just two shutouts in 20 previous matches; Wales have now kept their opposition scoreless in six of their most recent seven.
The visitors have stopped Belgium (twice), Israel (twice) and Bosnia from netting and currently boast the best defensive record in the competition
…one of two goals they have leaked came from the penalty spot. It’s a tremendous effort and couple it with Bosnia’s less-than-impressive defensive stats brings the 20/21 on Wales in the Double Chance market into focus. Grab a goal and they’ll stand a solid chance of avoiding defeat.
Gareth Bale’s fitness is of course just as crucial to the travellers and the world’s most expensive player has been involved in eight of Wales’ nine goals in qualifying, scoring six including four in his last three appearances. He’s 29/20 to add to that tally but a better bet might be to back Both Teams To Score at evens.
Swimming Against The Tide
For all Wales’ outstanding backline performances, this is all-or-nothing for Bosnia and you’d expect the hosts to come out firing, laying siege to the Welsh goal. The Golden Lilies have found the net in each of their last five, five of their last six have produced Over 2.5 Goals and they’ve seen the BTTS bet bank in six of their previous nine meaningful matches on home soil – seven of which had more than two goals.
As well as Dzeko, Bazdarevic can call upon top-class Serie A talent in Miralem Pjanic and Senad Lulic to conjure up moments of magic from midfield. The two teams offer contrasting goals trends but I’m happy swimming against the tide and counting on goals in Saturday night’s showdown, with Wales getting the result to spark plenty of parties back home.
Wales Double Chance @ 20/21
Both Teams To Score @ Evens
Correct Score 1-1 @ 6/1
*Prices correct at time of publication