Dzeko driving the Bosnian boom: World Cup Preview - Bosnia
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be the first time that Bosnia and Herzegovina have qualified for the tournament since their formation in the 1990’s. Previously, Bosnian players, along with players from other countries such as Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro represented a country called Yugoslavia but that country collapsed in the mid 90’s and with it went a lot of political tension.
Indeed, Bosnia and Herzegovina have no previous world cup experience own their own, but they should not be deterred. Bosnia possess some talented footballers including, but not limited to, their striker Edin Dzeko or their playmaker Miralem Pjanic?
Bosnia’s Road to Rio:
After all, Bosnia managed to finish top of their world cup qualifying group. Granted, Greece managed to achieve as many points as they did (25), but Bosnia’s superb goal difference meant that they qualified outright for the biggest football tournament in the world. In the ten games that they played, there were only three in which Bosnia failed to score at least two goals. They also managed to concede just six goals in those ten games which show that they seem to have a good balance of attack and defence.
The Bosnian 24-man Squad
Goalkeepers: Asmir Begovic (Stoke City), Asmir Avdukic (Borac Banja Luka), Jasmin Fejzic (VFR Aalen)
Defenders: Emir Spahic (Bayer Leverkusen), Toni Sunjic (Zorya Lugansk), Sead Kolasinac (Schalke), Ognjen Vranjes (Elazigspor), Ervin Zukanovic (Gent), Ermin Bicakcic (Eintracht Braunschweig), Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros)
Midfielders: Miralem Pjanic (Roma), Izet Hajrovic (Galatasaray), Mensur Mujdza (Freiburg), Haris Medunjanin (Gaziantepspor), Senad Lulic (Lazio), Anel Hadzic (Sturm), Tino Susic (Hajduk), Sejad Salihovic (Hoffenheim), Zvjezdan Misimovic (Guizhour Renhe), Senijad Ibricic (Erciyesspor), Avdija Vrsaljevic (Hajduk)
Strikers: Vedad Ibisevic (VfB Stuttgart), Edin Dzeko (Manchester City), Edin Visca (Istanbul BB).
Overview of the squad:
There is plenty to excite the neutral when looking at, and analysing, the Bosnian squad. Whether it be Edin Dzeko, who has really impressed for Manchester City this season, Roma’s talented boy, Miralem Pjanic, or even the ex Sevilla defender Emir Spahic. Bosnia are littered with good players, not great players, but good players. Great players don’t always make great teams, but great teams always make great players. The reader only has to watch Atletico Madrid or Liverpool to realise this. This is the attitude that Bosnia are going to have to take if they want to get as far as possible. A series of tactical masterclasses, everyone working for the team, including Edin Dzeko, a bit of luck and confidence is what Bosnia need. They have no been placed in the hardest of groups, though obviously Argentina should be expected to win it. Iran and Nigeria however, do not have a Messi or an Aguero in their ranks, and although you never know in football, Bosnia should expect to finish second.
The 3 key players:
Edin Dzeko: The Manchester City striker started last season seemingly out of the first team picture as Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo led the line to great effect. If it was not for Jovetic’s injury hit start to his career at The Etihad, then Dzeko may well have found himself still further down the pecking order. As it was however, Dzeko’s form picked up dramatically in the latter half of the campaign and went on to become City’s most reliable forward. Aguero was increasingly injury prone and Negredo was tiring, leaving the space free for the Bosnian to step in. He scored over 20 goals; a fantastic return for someone not fully in the first team picture. Throughout the World Cup qualification campaign, Dzeko was a crucial cog for Bosnia. Goal after goal drove the Europeans to some important victories and he will need to be on top of his game for Bosnia to achieve their aims this summer.
Asmir Begovic: Stoke City’s number one is destined for bigger and better things in the not too distant future, that is for sure. An excellent shot-stopper and a commanding presence in his penalty area, Begovic is crucial for his side keeping clean sheets. Bosnia proved to be a tough nut to crack defensively during the qualification stage, and although they will face much tougher opposition next month, a strong defence must continue for success to be achieved.
Miralem Pjanic: Perhaps the most naturally gifted member of Bosnia’s World Cup squad, Pjanic will provide the link between midfield and attack. Roma’s creative midfielder has an eye for a pass and also possesses the acceleration to break free from defenders’ attentions. One of Pjanic’s most common traits is to float between the lines and if opposition defenders fail to communicate efficiently, he may well slip through their grasp. If he finds these spaces, then Dzeko will be able to feed off the inevitable pin-point through balls played in by the Roma man.
Bosnia are matched up with Argentina, Iran and Nigeria in their World Cup group, and this should make for a highly intriguing fight for progression. One would have to assume that with Argentina’s vast array of talent and strength in depth, they would qualify in first position from the group. Iran are probably the weakest but are by no means the whipping boys of the group, and they could take vital points off any of the other teams. If the conditions do not get the better of the Bosnian’s, I feel that they are the second strongest team in the group and if their key players step up to the plate, then they should progress to the last 16. Further than this however, would most likely be a stage too far for this current squad.
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