Bosnia bust-ups overshadow preparation for Mexico friendly
World Cup outsiders Mexico and Bosnia and Herzegovina (both 150/1 chances) go head-to-head for a pre-tournament friendly in Chicago, USA, in what will be their penultimate game before their first finals match.
There will be a conflicting battle of formations in this duel, with the former’s manager Miguel Herrera preferring a 3-5-2 line-up, while the latter tend to favour playing 4-4-2.
El Tri (13/10 to win) are undefeated in 2014, and won both their fixtures in May, 3-0 against Israel and 3-1 over Ecuador. Back Mexico at 5/1 to score over 2.5 times again.
Bosnia (21/10 chances), meanwhile, gained a creditable victory over other World Cup participants Ivory Coast 2-1, with Manchester City striker Eden Dzeko getting both goals. He is favourite to be leading marksman for his country at the finals at 13/8, and 66/1 to be tournament top scorer.
Both Bosnia and Mexico have met just twice before in history, with the latter winning both. The last meeting came in 2012, with El Tri coming out 2-1 victors. That scoreline is priced at 17/2 to happen again.
Giovani dos Santos opened the scoring that day before a Dzeko equaliser was for nought thanks to Javier Hernandez netting a last minute winner. The Manchester United attacker is priced at 9/2 to get the most goals for Mexico at the World Cup, and 100/1 to top the tournament charts. Dos Santos, meanwhile, is 8/1 and 250/1 respectively.
The two sides have been hit with squad absentees recently, for differing reasons. Herrera lost versatile midfielder Luis Montes after suffering a broken leg in the friendly with Ecuador, while national legend Rafael Marquez picked up a foot injury in the same match and is doubtful for the finals.
Captain Marquez, 35, who now plays for domestic side Leon, has seemingly dispelled fears that he will be out of the World Cup. “Fortunately I have no fracture, I just need to wait for X-rays, but it seems that it is only a hit!” he said on social media.
Bosnia boss Safet Susic, meanwhile, has had to contend with issues involving defensive duo Boris Pandza and Ervin Zukanovic. The former criticised his omission from the squad, saying it was down to him playing for a Polish side, while the latter had visa problems and blamed his country’s football authority for the mix up.
A spat with Susic and Dzeko, after an exchange of words in a recent friendly, has seemingly been resolved, however.
Their side have been placed in Group F in their debut finals along with Argentina, Nigeria and Iran, and are second-favourites behind the former both to top the pool at 11/2, and qualify to the knockout rounds at 5/6.
Mexico have been given arguably a tougher draw, though. They will face hosts and World Cup favourites Brazil, as well as Croatia and Cameroon in Group A, and are priced at 9/1 to win that pool, and 5/4 to make it to the last 16.