Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 13/10
On Tuesday evening, Greece will welcome Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Olympic Stadium in Athens for what will be the eighth game of the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign for both teams as they desperately seek a way to book a place at the tournament next year. They were both seen as serious contenders to finish second in Group J behind Italy, but it hasn’t gone quite as planned for them.
Things aren’t looking too good for the hosts. At the moment, they sit in fifth place with five points to their name, with only Liechtenstein remaining below. They only managed one win in seven games so far, and that was 0-2 away to Liechtenstein in the opening game of their campaign. Since then, they took a point each from Bosnia away and Liechtenstein at home, and if they are to even dream of qualifying, they need to win not only this game, but also the remaining two – away to Armenia and at home to Finland. It won’t be an easy task, having suffered defeats from these opponents already.
Seven goals scored and 12 conceded so far tend to speak for themselves – Greece need a miracle.
One of the most talented players for Greece, Kostas Fortounis, is out for the long term with an ACL injury, and that can go some way in explaining their relatively poor attacking form. In his absence, coach John van’t Schip has been utilizing the trio of Efthymis Koulouris, Dimitris Limnios and Tasos Bakasetas upfront, but they’ve seriously lacked proper attacking spark and only managed a single shot on target against Italy on Saturday. Winger Lazaros Christodoulopoulos is also out.
At the back, there was no Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal or Kostas Manolas of Napoli in the squad against Italy, and it’s highly unlikely they’ll be playing this time either.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
It’s quite a different prospect for the Bosnians. They go to Athens sitting fourth but with 10 points, level with third-place Armenia and with two less than second-place Finland. After the Greece trip, they welcome Italy who have already secured their place at Euro 2020 and don’t need a result there, before going to last-place Liechtenstein where they are quite realistically expected to win.
It will be a tough battle against Armenia and Finland for the second place, however, with neither of those two teams, who face each other at the same time as this game, likely to give up at any point before the end. But Bosnia’s chances are tangible.
There’s no Edin Dzeko of AS Roma at the disposal of coach Robert Prosinecki, but Armin Hodzic has done very well to fill the boots of the experienced striker whenever called upon so far. Wingers Edin Visca and Amer Gojak will likely be there offer Hodzic support from wide positions. Sead Kolasinac of Arsenal should be present to offer his relentless runs up and down the left flank, and the team shouldn’t be too short on creativity either with Miralem Pjanic of Juventus pulling the strings from the middle of the park.
It feels that the visitors have more to play for in this game. Besides, Greece not doing very well at home during the campaign, it’s questionable whether they will be feeling the benefits of playing in Athens at all. And in the end, when it comes to comparing the two teams in terms of raw quality, it’s Bosnia who should have the satisfaction of picking up and leaving with all three points in their bag, putting the Greeks completely out of their misery.
Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 13/10
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