Even if they will have a perfect match ball when they face minnows Andorra in the final Euro 2016 qualifiers, Wales will attempt to secure their place at the tournament finals with a draw or win in Zenica. That will be no easy task given that Bosnia need a win in order to keep their play-off hopes alive, so we could be in for a very interesting encounter.
Following two successive play-off defeats to Portugal that prevented them from reaching a major tournament, Bosnia-Herzegovina finally qualified for the 2014 World Cup, although they failed to prove their worth at the tournament finals. And the failure to negotiate what was one of the easiest groups they could have imagined clearly left the negative effect on the team, who in turn struggled at the start of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. The national team chiefs decided to act following a four-match winless run and replaced Safet Susic with Mehmed Bazdarevic, but there was simply not enough time for Bosnia to kick-start their campaign. Two wins over Andorra and a defeat to Belgium left the Dragons in fourth place ahead of the final two rounds of games, although with third-placed Israel playing Belgium on the road in the final qualifier, Bosnia could clinch the play-off spot by winning their remaining fixtures. But, following the 0-0 draw in Wales, we could easily see another low-scoring encounter. Namely, star striker Edin Dzeko is almost certain to start on the bench after struggling through injury, while important midfuelder Senad Lulic is not at 100%. The likes of Tino Susic, Sead Kolasinac and Ermin Zec have withdrawn from the squad, whereas Muhamed Besic is banned.
Even if John Toshack had to put up with a lot of stick during his two spells as the Wales head coach, it is now clear that the experienced manager has laid the grounds for current boss Chris Coleman to take the Dragons to unimagined heights. His persistence to field talented yet very inexperienced players is the reason why the likes of Williams, Bale, Ramsey, Ledley and Gunter all have plenty of experience on international level, and they have been integral in helping Wales come on the brink of sealing Euro 2016 qualification. The team have shown a great deal of character and consistency throughout the current qualifying campaign, playing patiently even when things did not go their way and remaining confident in their own abilities. It is this kind of approach that is the reason why the Dragons are still unbeaten in eight games and why they have kept five clean sheets in a row. And while Wales would love to clinch qualification by winning in Bosnia, that will be no easy task, so we fully expect the Dragons to keep things tight at the back and wait for their opportunity on the break. The good news is that Allen, Ledley, Bale, Huws and Jonathan Williams have all recovered from injury, with only Dave Cotterill missing.
Bosnia will be wary of Wales’s attacking potential and with Edin Dzeko unlikely to start, their own front line could be quite toothless on Saturday evening. Meanwhile, the Dragons have kept five straight clean sheets and they will know that another one of these will give them the best possible chance to record a victory in Zenica.
Verdict: Both teams to score – No
Best Odds: 4/5
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