FRIENDLY: Bosnia vs Argentina – November 18 – St. Louis

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Graphic by Victoria Courtney

 

The newly qualified Bosnian national team will take on Messi and the Argentina national team, on November 18th, at 7:30PM (CET) in St. Louis, at Busch Stadium.

“We are excited to return to St. Louis with another marquee match,” said Relevent Sports CEO Charlie Stillitano. “St. Louis has proven itself to be a premier soccer market and we have no doubt that that the area’s soccer fans, including the large Bosnian community, will come out in full-force.”  He’s not wrong there.  St. Louis boasts a large Bosnian population, the largest in the U.S. with over 70,000 Bosnians inhabiting primarily the Bevo Mill area of the city.  Unlike other waves of immigrants in the United States, most Bosnians came in a single large wave, fleeing the ethnic hatred and cleansing in their home country in the brutal war of the early 1990s.

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Thousands of Bosnian fans in Chicago vs Mexico

 

When Bosnia came to visit the United States for a friendly match against Mexico, first in 2011 in Atlanta, and again in 2012 in Chicago, the tour saw sold out stadiums, dominated by Bosnian fans, a rare sight in America, where Mexicans can just as easily pack the house. When Manchester City, the club of the country’s most popular player, Edin Dzeko, came for a pre-season tour, America saw Bosnians traveling from far and wide, just to catch a glimpse of the striker.

It should be no different in St. Louis, in fact, it should be the biggest attendance yet, because of the location of the match, and because of the significance.  Bosnia is playing its first match as a World Cup qualified nation.  It will be more of a celebration than a game.  Bosnia’s manager Safet Susic has elected to call up the usual suspects, with only one new name being included in the lineup, Schalke talent Sead Kolasinac, but not his nephew Tino-Sven Susic (Hajduk).

Argentina isn’t taking the fixture lightly, it seems, with Lionel Messi, and other stars being included in the roster.  Four new defenders have been called up. Sabella has called Otamendi in the past and likely wants to give him another look. Orban,Roncaglia, and Gonzalo(Rodriguez) are new faces.

 

ARGENTINA:

Goalkeepers: Mariano Andujar (Catania, Italy), Sergio Romero (Monaco)

Defenders: Jose Maria Basanta (Monterrey, Mexico), Hugo Campagnaro (Inter Milan, Italy), Federico Fernandez (Napoli, Italy), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica, Portugal), Lucas Orban (Bordeaux, France), Nicolas Otamendi (Porto, Portugfl), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal), Facundo Roncaglia (Fiorentina), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Ricardo Alvarez (Inter Milan, Italy), Ever Banega (Valencia, Spain), Lucas Biglia (Lazio, Italy), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid, Spain), Erik Lamela (Tottenham, England), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona, Spain)

Forwards: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City, England), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli, Italy), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris Saint-Germain, France), Lionel Messi (Barcelona, Spain), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan, Italy)

 

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA:

Goalkeepers:  Asmir Begovic (Stoke City), Jasmin Fejzic (Aalen)

Defenders:  Ermin Bicakcic (Eintracht Braunschweig), Emir Spahic (Bayer Leverkusen), Toni Sunjic (Zorya Lugansk), Sead Kolasinac (Schalke)

Midfielders:  Sejad Salihovic (Hoffenheim), Adnan Zahirovic (Bochum), Haris Medunjanin (Gaziantepspor), Senijad Ibricic (Erciyesspor), Miralem Pjanic (Roma), Izet Hajrovic (Grasshoppers), Avdija Vrsajevic (Hajduk Split), Zvjezdan Misimovic (Guizhou Renhe), Zoran Kvrzic (Rijeka)

Forwards:  Edin Dzeko (Manchester City), Vedad Ibisevic (Stuttgart), Edin Visca (Istanbul BB)

 

DATE AND TIME:  Monday, November 18th, 7:30PM (Central Time)

 

VENUE:

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GRAPHIC by St. Louis Cardinals Baseball

Busch Stadium

Capacity:  49,000

City:  St. Louis, Missouri

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

 

Argentina:  

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Sergio Aguero – Argentina cannot be mentioned without their star striker, and arguably best player in the world at the moment, Lionel Messi.  However, the Barcelona star hasn’t been in particular stunning form lately.  The player, who has been, however is Manchester City star and team mate of Edin Dzeko, Sergio Kun Aguero.  Kun was 8 goals and a further 6 assists in the Premier League this season, in only 673 minutes of play.  In the Champions League, he has 5 goals and 3 assists in 337 minutes.  Aguero’s speed and mobility is bound to give the Bosnian defense problems, since they depend more on strength and headers instead of movement and speed. Aguero will undoubtedly draw a lot of the defenders to himself, since Susic has already admitted designating a player to shadow Messi throughout the match.

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Angel di Maria – Again, Bosnia struggles on the counter and on the wings, where the speed of opposing players can often cause confusion and inability to defend.  Bosnia will either go with Senad Lulic, the Lazio man on the left back side, or Sejad Salihovic, the Hoffenheim midfielder.  In either case, both players are attack oriented, and often abandon their defensive roles in favor of sprinting forward to aid in attack.  Di Maria might have an easy time cutting forward and feeding crosses to his forwards.

 

Bosnia-Herzegovina

 

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Asmir Begovic –  Besides being a joint top scorer for his Stoke City side, Asmir Begovic has been in incredible form this season.  Last season, he was ranked in the top 3 of the Premiership, with numerous sides beckoning to bring him into their fold, including Manchester City, who are still actively looking for a replacement for Joe Hart.  Begovic will have his work cut out for him with Argentina’s arsenal which is undoubtedly ready to pepper his goal.

 

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Vedad Ibisevic – Why Vedad Ibisevic, and not Edin Dzeko?  The Argentine defenders will be drawn to the Manchester City man, leaving Ibisevic with plenty of room to move around and take his chances.  For Ibisevic, this is a home coming match, with the Stuttgart man growing up in this area as an immigrant with his family. Ibisevic, who went to Roosevelt High, played one season at SLU, 2003, before going pro with Paris St.-Germain. For him, this venue and this occasion will give him an even greater impetus to score, in front of his family and friends.

 

KEYS TO THE GAME:

 

For Bosnia, the wingers will have to pull double duty and help out on defense as much as possible, and compromise some of the offensive power they bring. If Avdija Vrsajevic is replacing the injured starting RB Mensur Mujdza (Freiburg), he will have to close down effectively and leave the offensive duties to the central midfield. For Argentina, their CB’s are fine for the most part, Garay and Fede Fernandez work well together. It’s the LB that is giving them the biggest issue which is why the manager will be calling a player like Orban who is a a solid talent. Argentina can be deadly on the counter and will undoubtedly attack on all sides, including the wings, where Bosnia are most vulnerable.  Bosnia have to be more efficient in the final third, retain possession, and make the most of their chances.