Thursday, April 25, 2024

Prediction: Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Ukraine

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 20 Mar 2024

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Verdict: Away win

Best odds: 11/12

Bookmaker: BetUS

Bosnia and Herzegovina are set to host Ukraine at Stadion Bilino Polje in Zenica, in a Euro 2024 qualification playoff semifinal in Path B on Thursday.

The stakes are high, as the winner of the play-off route will secure a place in Group E of the final tournament alongside Belgium, Slovakia, and Romania. The victors of this single-leg contest will advance to the playoff final, where they will face either Israel or Iceland for a chance to secure a ticket to the main tournament in Germany.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina faced disappointment in the Euro 2024 group stage, missing out on an automatic qualification spot after winning three and losing seven of their 10 Group J fixtures, finishing fifth and trailing the top two by 13 points.

However, Savo Milosevic’s side has been granted a second chance to secure their first-ever European Championships appearance after topping their UEFA Nations League group at the end of last year.

Star midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who featured in Bosnia’s squad during the 2014 World Cup – their only previous major tournament appearance, is hopeful for success in what he describes as a “life-changing match” on Thursday as they strive to progress towards Euro 2024.

Ranked 71st in the world by FIFA, Bosnia seek to start 2024 positively after ending the previous year with three consecutive defeats, conceding a total of 11 goals.

However, success against Ukraine on Thursday is not assured for the Dragons, given their inability to secure victories in their previous two encounters during the 2021 World Cup qualification campaign, including a 2-0 loss on home turf.

Team News

Basel defender Adrian Leon Barisic has withdrawn from the Bosnia squad due to injury, and Rakow’s Adnan Kovacevic has been called up as his replacement.

Additionally, Renato Gojkovic is suspended following his red card in Bosnia’s final group-stage qualifier. Sheffield United’s Anel Ahmedhodzic is likely to step in and partner Dennis Hadzikadunic in central defense.

Edin Dzeko, 38, remains Bosnia’s most-capped player with 133 appearances and record goalscorer with 65 goals. He is expected to lead the attacking line as the captain of his country.

Ukraine

Ukraine narrowly missed out on automatic qualification for Euro 2024, finishing third in Group C and behind second-place Italy only on goal difference. Their final fixture against the Azzurri ended in a goalless draw, which means a single goal would’ve had them at the Euros already.

Despite this, the Blue-Yellows secured a spot in the play-off round for Euro 2024 after finishing second in their UEFA Nations League group at the end of last year. Serhiy Rebrov’s side aim to qualify for the finals for the fourth consecutive time.

Under Rebrov’s leadership since June last year, Ukraine have lost only one of their eight matches, securing four wins and three draws against strong opponents like Italy, Germany, and England.

Ranked 24th in the world by FIFA, Ukraine have adapted well to playing away from home due to the ongoing Russian war, securing four wins and a draw in their last eight away matches.

However, their track record in major tournament qualification play-offs is not promising, as they have failed to advance from six of their previous seven play-off ties for either the World Cup or European Championships. This presents a challenging prospect ahead of their meeting with Bosnia on Thursday.

Team News

Experienced midfielder Taras Stepanenko has been sidelined due to injury, potentially paving the way for either Serhiy Sydorchuk or Mykola Shaparenko to fill the deep-lying role in front of the back four.

Goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin is likely to retain his place in the starting lineup ahead of Heorhiy Bushchan and Andriy Lunin, having started each of their last three group-stage qualifiers. Meanwhile, Bournemouth center-back Illya Zabarnyi and Everton left-back Vitaliy Mykolenko are expected to help form the defensive line.

Arsenal’s Oleksandr Zinchenko, who often features in midfield for the national team, is likely to start on Thursday. In attack, Chelsea’s Mykhaylo Mudryk could partner either Roman Yaremchuk or Artem Dovbyk, with the latter having scored 14 goals for Girona this season.

Conclusion

A closely contested match, possibly extending beyond the regulation 90 minutes, is on the cards for Thursday. Notably, none of Bosnia’s last 12 home matches have ended in a draw, while Ukraine have only drawn one of their last 13 away games.

On paper, Ukraine arguably possess the stronger squad, with Rebrov having access to several Premier League stars. Given their promising performances in recent draws against Italy, Germany, and England, they are expected to find a path to victory against Bosnia.

Verdict: Away win

Best odds: 11/12

Bookmaker: BetUS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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