Bosnia and Herzegovina will host Italy in a must-win Euros qualifiers clash, as anything less than a win will dampen the hopes of qualification for the hosts in next year’s European Championships.
With the start of International break, the 2020 Euros Qualifiers resume with Bosnia & Herzegovina welcoming high flying Italy in a Group J clash at the Bilino Polje Stadium on Friday. It will be a crucial game for Bosnia if they want to keep their slightest of hopes of qualifying.
Bosnia are currently in the fourth position behind group leaders Italy, Finland and Armenia and if Robert Prosinečki’s men want to turn things around from here then they have to spark a surprise against Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri.
The Golden Lillies have managed to muster only 10 points from their eight group games registering only three wins and a draw and suffering four losses. They are coming to this game after suffering a 1-2 defeat against Greece. Robert Prosinečki’s men have been very unpredictable they have beaten Finland handsomely but have lost to Armenia by a margin of 2-4.
Meanwhile, Italy have a perfect record in the group with eight wins and in that process, Mancini’s men have scored 25 goals and have conceded only three. The Azzurri have been very convincing with their victories and are coming to this game on the back of a morale-boosting 5-0 win over Liechtenstein.
In the reverse fixture, Italy came from behind to win 2-1 as Lorenzo Insigne and Marco Verratti scored for Mancini’s side and Edin Dzeko bagged the solitary goal for Bosnia.
Team News and Tactics
Bosnia & Herzegovina
The best news ahead of the game is that the Bosnia manager Robert Prosinečki has a fully fit squad to field against the mighty Italians. Also with the Azzurri already through, Roberto Mancini has opted to look at other players ahead of the main tournament which also increases the chances of Bosnia to capitalize on it with a win.
Prosinecki prefers the free-flowing 4-4-3 formation and Ibrahim Šehić is ought to be his man between the sticks. With Darko Todorović and Sead Kolasinac slotting in as right and left-back respectively, while Adnan Kovačević and Hoffenheim defender Ermin Bičakčić form the centre back pairing.
Miralem Pjanic will be the player of attraction in midfield as the Juventus midfielder will add the creative impetus to the team as he will look to unlock the stubborn Italian defence with his intricate passing. To support him Elvis Sarić will partner Gojko Cimirot as the latter will sit deep and shield the backline.
Former Manchester City forward Edin Dzeko will lead the lines for the Golden Lillies and would like to add to his tally of three goals. The 33-year old will be supported by Amer Gojak who has netted four goals along with three assists in the group. On the right flank, Gojak’s teammate from Dinamo Zagreb, Izet Hajrović will slot in providing the extra space in the final third.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Sehic; Todorovic, Kovacevic, Bicakcic, Kolasinac; Cimirot, Pjanic, Saric; Hajrovic, Dzeko, Gojak.
With the Azzurri already through to the final, Mancini is looking to hand more opportunities to players who he wants to test out ahead of the big tournament next year. In his 29-man squad, he has called up three uncapped players which include Gaetano Castrovilli, Riccardo Orsolini and Andrea Cistana for this match. Players like Alessandro Florenzi, Emerson Palmieri and Federico Chiesa have all returned back to the camp are raring to take the field against Bosnia.
Although Mancini has made it clear that the veteran Salvatore Sirigu is his first-choice goalkeeper, he will also be tempted to try out Napoli’s Alex Meret in goal. Florenzi, who makes a return to this side after sometime is likely to start as a right-back with Cristiano Biraghi taking up the left-back spot. Young defender Gianluca Mancini may get a look in alongside the experienced Leonardo Bonucci in the centre back pairing.
In midfield, Jorginho will look to replicate his current form for Chelsea in national colours as he will be well supported by Nicolo Barella and Nicola Zaniolo. The latter tends to venture forward and connect midfield with attack and will have added responsibilities in Stefano Sensi’s absence.
Marco Verratti was ruled out hours before the squad was announced along with players like Domenico Berardi and Leonardo Spinazzola who also miss out. Brescia’s 19-year old midfielder SandroTonali has been named as Verratti’s replacement.
In attack, Mancini will be missing Everton forward Moise Kean and Brescia’s Mario Balotelli. Andrea Belotti is likely to lead the lines for the Azzurri with Federico Chiesa and Lorenzo Insigne provide the extra energy and creative impetus in attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Sirigu; Florenzi, Mancini, Bonucci, Biraghi; Barella, Jorginho, Zaniolo; Chiesa, Belotti, Insigne.
- This match will be the third meeting between the two sides and in their two previous meetings, both sides have bagged a win each. But the Italians have won recently in June 2019.
- Italy have won their last nine matches and are unbeaten in 12 games (W10). They have failed to score only twice in their last 18 games in which they have scored 12 goals in the second half out of their last 14 goals scored.
- Italy are now unbeaten in 38 UEFA European Championship qualifiers (W32 D6), since a 3-1 away defeat versus France on 6 September 2006. This is the longest unbeaten run by any nation in EURO qualifiers.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina have only won three of their last ten matches (L5), but are unbeaten in seven home matches (W5).
Player to Watch
A surprising entry in this segment but the 22-year old Amer Gojak deserves some limelight. The Dinamo Zagreb attacking midfielder has scored four goals along with three assists in the qualifiers and will look to continue his good run of form against Italy on Friday. While Pjanic will be the anchor in midfield for Bosnia, the mantle of creating chances and scoring goals will be on Gojak’s shoulders.
The youngster takes a lot deeper role in midfielder for his club and has been impressive in both roles for club and country. His exciting performances have attracted interest from clubs like West Ham United, FC Barcelona, Manchester City and many more. This proves his talent and how crucial will he be for Bosnia and Herzegovina in addition to Dzeko and Pjanic against the Italians.
Bosnia & Herzegovina 1-3 Italy
Italy have been picture-perfect in the first eight matches of the European Championship qualifiers and it is set to continue that way. Roberto Mancini has decided to test out a few new names and that opens the door slightly for Bosnia but the overall quality in their ranks and the compactness in their backline can be too much for the hosts who have not found their feet in the entirety of the qualifiers till now.
Therefore, Italy are set to deliver another strong, statement win away from home over Bosnia & Herzegovina, as The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-3 defeat for the hosts, putting them out of the race for next year’s European Championship.