The Newsroom reviews each team in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Team: Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Best known for being at the heart of the former Yugoslavia’s geo-political tensions in the 1990s, the country remains troubled by high unemployment and political unrest. But its football team will debut at the World Cup in Brazil and are ready to make their mark on history.
Qualifying through the uncompetitive UEFA Group G, Bosnia were rarely troubled on their way to topping the group. They scored 30 goals at an average of three a game, conceding only six, to leave Greece runners up with a much inferior goal difference. Despite a slip-up against Slovakia away from home, Bosnia asserted their authority in the last group match with a strong win against Lithuania.
Bosnia and Herzegovina will face Argentina, Nigeria and Iran in Group F.
FIFA World Ranking: 25th
Strengths: Bosnia’s strength lies up front where Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko and Stuttgart forward Vedad Ibesivic lead a potent attack for the Blue Dragons. The pair combined for 18 goals in the qualifying stages. Fed by AS Roma playmaker Miralem Pjanic, the Bosnian minnows could unsettle their opposition.
Weaknesses: Despite being anchored by Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, recent friendly losses against Argentina and Egypt showed that when under pressure from a well drilled squad, the Bosnian defence has a tendency to crack, leaving gaping holes for the opposition to exploit. The Blue Dragons employ an ultra-attacking 4-1-3-2 formation where the wing backs essentially act as extra strikers when Bosnia have the ball, but they’ll need to find a delicate balance between offence and defence in Brazil.
Key player: Despite limited game time in the sky blue kit of Manchester City, striker Edin Dzeko has managed to regularly find the net for club and country. The influential striker’s 16-goal return in the Premier League this season and better than a goal every two matches for Bosnia make him the core of the Blue Dragons’ campaign.
Manager: After experiencing World Cup campaigns with Yugoslavia in 1982 and 1990, Safet Susic knows what it means to be at the showpiece event. Appointed in 2009 as coach of Bosnia, Susic watched his side stumble in play-offs for the 2012 Cup and Euro 2012, but persevered to guided the team to Brazil.
Prediction: Bosnia’s campaign to end in the group stage, with Nigeria and Argentina progressing. – Patrick Boddan