2014 FIFA World Cup PREVIEW: Bosnia & Herzegovina v Nigeria

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Bosnia & Herzegovina showed the world how capable they were of playing in the World Cup despite being first timers to the party. Despite the 2-1 loss to Argentina, Bosnia stood toe-to-toe with the South American juggernauts and could have finished the match with a 1-1 tie if it weren’t for the own goal early in the game. Nigeria on the otherhand were stifled by Iran’s stingy defense and lamented their lack of creativity to provide their forwards open shots at goal. While Nigeria holds a one-point lead over B&H in the standings, that might easily be short-lived tomorrow night.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is just a force on the attack. Despite the misfortune of having only one goal to show for it, the Dragons showed that they have the potential to produce even more. Given the fragility of Nigeria’s backline, B&H can easily break through with the creative play of Miralem Pjanic and the goal-scoring prowess of Edin Dzeko. Even though B&H aren’t known for their defensive tenacity, they managed to do a good job in keeping Argentina at bay, surrendering a goal to Messi, but hindering Aguero and Higuain from finding the net. A 2-1 loss to Argentina can be a sign of encouragement for Bosnia for the rest of the group stage as Bosnia will look to take three points tonight.

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Standing in Bosnia’s way is Nigeria, a hyper athletic side that boasts speed and strength, but lacks a touch of finesse and creativity. The Super Eagles boasts some talented players like Emmanuel Emenike and Ahmed Musa, but their lack of a true playmaker was evident in their sloppy 0-0 tie against Iran. Although Nigeria put up more shots than Iran, none of their chances were perfectly open opportunities to warrant a lead. Even though they’ll gladly take a point from that match, Nigeria will regret not beating the Iranians as they have a tough road ahead of them. Standing in their way to the round of 16 after B&H is highly skilled Argentina. Seeing how stifled they were against a lowly Iranian team, the Super Eagles might look like Super Turkeys once Bosnia and Herzegovina put on a clinical show against them.

Projected Starting XI 

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Begovic, Mujdza, Bicakcic, Spahic, Kolasinac, Besic, Hajrovic, Pjanic, Misimovic, Lulic, Dzeko

Nigeria: Enyeama, Ambrose, Yobo, Omeruo, Oshaniwa, Onazi, Mikel Obi, Azeez, Musa, Emenike, Odemwingie

Keys for Bosnia and Herzegovina

- Defensive discipline in crucial. Given the fast nature of Nigeria’s attacking players, B&H cannot afford to lose focus against the Super Eagles. Positioning and heavy marking is key to frustrating Nigeria’s offense.

- Control the midfield. Given the lack of talent in Nigeria’s midfield, B&H can afford to play the possession game and break Nigeria’s midfield apart. It all starts with Pjanic.

- Distract the box. Although Dzeko is a dangerous striker, he needs space to operate inside. The speedy presence of Hajrovic could be enough to draw defenders away from Dzeko and provide ample space to get a shot.

Keys for Nigeria

- Counter, Counter, Counter. The Super Eagles aren’t a creative squad and will likely get less possession than their opponents. Their best opportunity to attack will come through the use of their athleticism and speed on the counter attack.

- Shore up that defense. Speaking of counter attacks, shore up the backline. The Bosnians are coming.

- Stick onto Dzeko. The Manchester City striker has a tendency of getting in the place at the right time to get the goal. His awareness and sense of positioning is top class. Nigeria cannot fall asleep on this man (nor should they).

Key Battles

- Mikel Obi vs Pjanic – Pjanic is the driving creative force for Bosnia and Herzegovina. If Mikel Obi manages to give Pjanic a tough time, perhaps the burden of defending Bosnia’s attacks will lighten.

- Dzeko vs Yobo + Omeruo – Yobo and Omeruo will be facing a striker who is 10 times more talented than Iran’s Reza Ghoochannejhad. There is zero margin for error in this matchup.

-  Hajrovic vs Oshaniwa – Hajrovic was relatively silent against Argentina and is looking to bounce back as a more productive presence for his national team. The strong and speedy Oshaniwa will prove to be a tough battle for the Galatasaray winger, but Hajrovic must understand that it won’t get any easier throughout the World Cup.

Staff Predictions

Young Kim: 2-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nigeria just cannot score. No matter how hard they press forward, the Nigerians cannot link up smoothly and earn an easy shot at goal. Bosnia on the other hand will give the Super Eagles a tough time with their onslaught of attackers testing the defense. Dzeko will have a brace tonight.

Drew Thompson: Bosnia 2-0. Nigeria will threaten Bosnia at times at the back due to their pace, but their overall quality lacks and they never make the right decisions. Bosnia is incredibly creative but may struggle with Nigeria’s athleticism, yet Nigeria’s weakness in defense means Bosnia have goals in them where Nigeria don’t.

 

Tags: World Cup

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