Bosnia and Herzegovina are going into the tournament with little expectations as they are shaping up to take part in the World Cup for the first time in their short history as an independent nation. They do have a talented squad, who are far from the worst team traveling to Brazil, despite their underwhelming history. A lot of the team’s stars play in the world’s biggest leagues which highlights the ability that is present in the squad. After losing out twice to Portugal in the playoffs for the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 European Championships, Bosnia have finally reached a major tournament, losing only once in their qualification group.
They will be delighted with their draw, as they have a great chance of qualification for the latter stages. Although Argentina will prove a very difficult test for a side lacking in tournament experience, both Iran and Nigeria offer an easier proposition. The second spot will likely be determined by the fixture between Bosnia and Nigeria on the 21st June, but the European nation have a great chance of beating the African champions.
The quality of their midfield is the main strength of the Bosnian national side as it is packed with creative talent, with the standouts being Miralem Pjanic and Sejad Salihovic. They are both key to the way Bosnia play, but they differ in playing styles. The former is a central player who is excellent at dribbling with the ball, while in the final third he is dangerous as he can play defence splitting passes, while he is also has an excellent shot from range. Meanwhile, Salihovic is adaptable and can play both centrally and on the wings. He is a very good crosser of the ball and a comfortable passer of the ball, while the Hoffenheim player is also an excellent shooter from distance. Both of them are dangerous set piece takers, so that is an area Bosnia can capitalise on given the height in their side.
Bosnia and Herzegovina have a very talented goalkeeper in Asmir Begovic, who at 26 is approaching the stage in his career when he may need to seek a move to a bigger club and a good World Cup would give him the opportunity to do just that. He is a very good shot stopper, while he also has a dominance in the air, which allows him to dominate from set pieces.
Their strike-force of Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic will be relied upon to score the goals, but both are in the prime of their career, therefore they will relish the opportunity to play at the World Cup. They are a physical partnership, who are good in the air, with one going to flick the ball on, while the other one runs in behind the defence. Bosnia will be a direct side at times as the likes of Pjanic and Salihovic providing the service for the strike force, but the passing ability of the midfield will mean that Bosnia have the option of playing attractive football when necessary.
Bosnia’s main weakness is their defence. They lack any real quality in their back four, which will hinder the side as they will be coming up against the world’s best teams. Their captain Emir Spahic is 33 now and is suffering from a loss of pace and he will be easily exploited by some of the pacy players in the Nigerian side. Bosnia will need to be well organised and hard working to ensure their defence isn’t easily bypassed.
Safet Susic is seen as a legend in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He played for the national side twice after they earned their independence, he had played for Yugoslavia beforehand. He became the national coach in 2009 and he has overseen the development of a very strong side, who can compete at the highest level.
The country has been boosted by the qualification for the World Cup and his own reputation has only been enhanced due to that. He normally opts for a functional style with a 4-1-3-2 or a 4-4-2 formation with Dzeko and Ibisevic leading the line. The creativity in the midfield allows him to play two strikers and he may opt for a defensive midfielder in Brazil to assist his under par defence.
Bosnia rely heavily on Edin Dzeko and his experience at the top level for Manchester City should come to the fore this summer as Bosnia need leadership from their more experience players. Despite being only 28, he is probably the most experienced at the highest level after playing Champions League football with Manchester City for three seasons. They need to keep the ball for long periods when they get it as their defence won’t be able to cope with a constant onslaught, therefore Dzeko will be required to hold the ball up.
Moreover, he will be relied upon to score goals along with his strike partner Ibisevic. He has had a great season domestically and could yet receive his second Premier League title. He may be looking to move at the end of the season to secure regular first team football and a good summer will give him the platform to do so.
World Cup History
This is Bosnia’s first World Cup.
Verdict: Bosnia And Herzegovina
I think Bosnia have a real chance to get out of the group, but their defence could prove to be their downfall. Nigeria have shown that they can compete at a tournament after winning the African Cup of Nations, and that could prove crucial. Bosnia have no experience at a major tournament, therefore they may struggle with the demands of the World Cup. They do have some real quality in their side, but so does every side in the competition. Their hopes lie heavily on Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko, so if those two play badly, Bosnia have almost no chance. I expect them to beat Iran, but lose the other two group games.
Prediction: Group Stage – Making Up The Numbers