Back World Cup new boys Bosnia to reach quarters in Brazil
Unfashionable in name, but certainly not in talent, Bosnia and Herzegovina will travel to Brazil this summer and take part in their first ever World Cup as an independent nation, but are far from likely to be the competition’s whipping-boys.
The Bosnians (125/1 trophy hopes) will certainly go into go into the tournament in confident mood, having dropped just four points in their qualifying group as they came top – ahead on goal difference to Greece.
Safet Susic’s side managed comprehensive victories over the likes of Liechtenstein (8-1 and 4-1), and Latvia (4-1 and 5-0), scoring 30 goals and conceding just six in their 10 qualifying games.
Bosnia are priced 5/1 (second-favourites) to win the group, and odds-on at 8/11 to qualify for the knockout phase. They could get as far as the quarters even, with Coral making them 5/1 shots to get eliminated at that stage.
Leading the way for the Bosnians on the scoring front is Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko, arguably the most high profile name in the national setup. The 28-year-old played every single minute of his country’s campaign and managed a destructive 10 goals in as many matches to come second in the European charts section – behind just Robin van Persie.
Dzeko is priced at 100/1 to win the World Cup Golden Boot, and has a great chance of achieving that feat. The Eastern Europeans have been drawn with lesser footballing countries Iran and Nigeria, as well as tournament second-favourites Argentina (5/1).
Bosnia primarily play with the traditional 4-4-2 formation, and Dzeko’s partner in crime Vedad Ibisevic is certainly more than capable of providing a few goals himself.
Ibisevic, 29, currently plays for Bundesliga side Stuttgart, and has scored 15 times in 29 appearances for his club in all competitions this season so far. More impressively, he was third top-scorer in the World Cup Qualifiers European section with eight, and is not a bad shout for the Golden Boot either at 150/1.
The players providing support for the front two, will be playmakers Miralem Pjanic of Roma and Zvjezdan Misimovic, who has the country’s record number of caps.
Despite the latter having a reported fall out with coach Susic in the past, the duo have seemingly settled their differences, even since Misimovic tested his national boss’ patience by moving to Chinese side Guizhou Renhe.
The former Bayern Munich, Galatasaray and Dynamo Moscow star still remains a big part of the setup as he managed an impressive five goals in nine appearance in the qualifiers. Usual central player Pjanic, meanwhile, is mainly used out on the right for his country, and scored three form eight.
Holding the midfield together will be lesser-known Haris Medunjanin, who plays for Turkish Super Lig side Gaziantepspor. The attack-minded 29-year-old has slotted in perfectly in the defensive midfield role for Bosnia and took part in eight qualifying games.
Versitile left-sided Lazio player Senad Lulic has alternated between the left back and left midfield roles with Hoffenheim’s Sejad Salihovic for their country, but both are likely starters, whatever their position.
Swiss-born winger Izet Hajrovic is certainly one to watch at the World Cup, but his chances may be limited to being an impact substitute. The 22-year-old now has five caps to his name, and got an impressive six goals and four assists in the league for Grasshoppers, before his January move to Galatasaray.
In central defence, Bayer Leverkusen and 72-capped national captain Emir Spahic, 33, has been a rock and was ever-present in Bosnia’s qualifying matches – that let in just six goals in 10 games.
Spahic is yet to have a consistent central partner, with the likes of Ermin Bicakcic and Ervin Zukanovic vying for the spot. For the right back birth, Avdija Vrsajevic looks nailed on for the position, while promising former Germany youth international Sead Kolasinac, 22, of Schalke will be hoping to get in the squad.
The goalkeeper spot, meanwhile, is a dead certainty. In-demand Stoke City stopper Asmir Begovic occupied the number one jersey in all of Bosnia’s qualifying games and barring injury, will not be moved.