Italy are hoping to seal their place at the top of Group A1 in the UEFA Nations League when they face Bosnia & Herzegovina on Wednesday.

Italy will have the chance to continue their excellent run of form in this international window as they travel to Stadion Grbavica in Sarajevo to face Bosnia & Herzegovina on Wednesday. It is a must-win game for the away side, who are currently leading the Group A1 in the UEFA Nations League with nine points on the board.

Failing to secure a win this midweek, however, could allow Netherlands the opportunity to finish the group at the top as the Oranje are currently breathing down Italy’s neck with eight points. The Azzurri have been good form during this international window though, having secured a 4-0 win over Estonia in a friendly before seeing out Poland in a comfortable 2-0 victory on Sunday.

Bosnia, meanwhile, are coming on the back of a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Netherlands on Sunday, meaning they are still winless in this edition of the UEFA Nations League. It is, however, fair to point out that the Dragons did secure one of their two points so far, in the reverse fixture of this very match-up, at the start of last month.

Dusan Bajevic’s men will be looking for a similar performance this time out. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this fascinating encounter in Sarajevo this midweek.

Team News & Tactics

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Bosnia & Herzegovina are likely to miss out on the services of star man Edin Dzeko once again due to coronavirus. Although Armin Hodzic deputized for the unavailable Roma forward on Sunday, we might see Smail Prevljak starting this game due to his dynamic performance after coming on from the bench last time out.

Can Dzeko inflict more damage on Spain? (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

Dzeko’s expected absence could once again be a massive blow. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

We are unlikely to witness any other changes in the lineup, with Edin Visca and Amer Gojak occupying the wider attacking roles while Miralem Pjanic and Rade Krunic should operate as central midfielders. They will be in charge of providing the creative essence in the final third, although Visca, in particular, will be hoping for a better performance after failing to get past Owen Wijndal on Sunday.

Gojko Cimirot, meanwhile, is pretty much a guaranteed starter in the defensive midfield position. The Standard Liege star could play a key role in providing defensive cover for the backline, as well as clearing the loose balls in midfield. He is likely to receive additional support from Barcelona’s Pjanic.

It essentially means that the formation could change during the match and we are likely to witness a traditional 4-2-3-1 during defensive phases, with Krunic operating as a lone number ten.

Speaking of defence, the onus will be on Dennis Hadzikadunic and Siniša Saničanin to provide the solidity at the heart of the four-man Bosnian backline, especially following an underwhelming display against Netherlands. They will be further aided by the two full-backs in Branimir Cipetic and Sead Kolasinac.

Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Sehic; Cipetic, Hadzikadunic, Sanicanin, Kolasinac; Cimirot; Visca, Pjanic, Krunic, Gojak; Prevljak

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Italy

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini could make one or two alterations in defence, with Alessandro Bastoni, in particular, likely to get a breather after starting in both matches during this international window. He could make way for his Inter Milan teammate in Danilo D’Ambrosio while Giovanni Di Lorenzo might replace Alessandro Florenzi at right-back.

The likes of Gianluigi Donnarumma, Francesco Acerbi and Emerson should all retain their place in the starting lineup, though Mancini does have interesting alternatives in Gian Marco Ferrari and Davide Calabria.

Jorginho has become a lynchpin in the Italian midfield and notably scored a goal in the 2-0 win over Poland on the weekend. He remains a critical asset in the second line of press, alongside Nicolo Barella, though their partner Manuel Locatelli could make way for AC Milan star Sandro Tonali.

Meanwhile, in the attack, Andrea Belotti should retain his role in the number nine position due to the continued absence of star striker Ciro Immobile. The Torino striker will be looking to get the better of the Bosnian defence with his robust style of play.

Belotti should receive additional creative support from Stephan El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Insigne, although there are other options including Federico Bernardeschi and Domenico Berardi.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, D’Ambrosio, Acerbi, Emerson; Tonali, Jorginho, Barella; El Shaarawy, Belotti, Insigne

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Key Stats

  • The sides drew 1-1 in Italy on Matchday 1, Rome-based Edin Džeko having given the visitors the lead. Italy had won both of the teams’ previous competitive meetings, home and away in UEFA EURO 2000 qualifying.
  • This game is the countries’ first encounter in Sarajevo since they met for the first time in 1996, in a friendly. That remains the Bosnians’ only win against Italy to date: W1 D1 L2.
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina are one of few teams yet to secure a win in the UEFA Nations League and have already been relegated.
  • Only nine out of 55 teams have scored fewer goals than Bosnia & Herzegovina (3) in this edition of the UEFA Nations League.
  • Only Wales, Slovenia and Greece, Gibraltar and Liechtenstein have conceded fewer goals than Italy (2) in the UEFA Nations League this campaign.

Player to Watch

Jorginho

Time to boss the midfield in Italian colours. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Bossing the midfield in Italian colours. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Jorginho is, no doubt, one of the most important players for Italy heading into this clash. The Chelsea midfielder has already had an impactful campaign on a domestic level, becoming a key asset in Frank Lampard’s team despite speculations in the summer that linked with him with a move to Arsenal.

The Italian international has offered his team a lot of solidity in the middle of the park and his ability to read the game could be crucial this week, especially against a Bosnia side, who already have a strong midfield unit in the likes of Pjanic and Krunic. So it would be a wise idea to bet on Jorginho as the game-changer in this fixture.

Prediction

Italy 1-0 Bosnia & Herzegovina

Italy have showcased a remarkable solidity at the back throughout their UEFA Nations League campaign so far, conceding just two goals in five matches.

And with Bosnia & Herzegovina missing their star striker Dzeko, it is hard to imagine the hosts scoring a goal this midweek, although Italy themselves could find it hard to break the deadlock due to the absence of Immobile. We are predicting a narrow win for the Azzuri.

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