Game: Bosnia & Herzegovina v. Mexico (International Friendly – Road to Brazil Tournament)
Date: Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Time: 8:30 Local Time CT 9:30 ET 3:30am CET
Venue: Chicago, Illinois
Stadium: Soldier Field
Importance of this Match
Two bitter losses for the Dragons against Mexico have turned this matchup into a rivalry, as much as international friendlies realistically allow. The Dragons are coming into form as the World Cup is less than two weeks away. This will be the third of four friendlies for the Dragons who have redeemed themselves against Ivory Coast with an excellent 2-1 win. Prior to the Ivory Coast showing the Bosnian Senior National team showed just how further along they were than their U-21 selection with a 5-0 drubbing of the youngsters. A win against Mexico would certainly bring the confidence level of Safet Susic’s men back to the high they felt after the World Cup Qualification spot sealing victory over Lithuania many months ago. This is the last true test for the Bosnian side, as only a game against U-21 Brazilian side Santos is remaining, a full squad being available against Mexico is key.
El Tri are beaming with confidence coming into this friendly against the Dragons. Having handily beaten Bosnia on both previous occasions by making full use of their chance while Bosnia was very disorganized defensively. Mexico has with ease beaten World Cup participant Equador 3-1 and a weak Israel side 3-0. El Tri seem to be clicking on all cylinders, its a shame midfielder Luis Montez had a gruesome leg injury that broke his leg and will force him to miss the World cup. Mexico will do its best to reformat the lineup in his absence in this and their next friendly. Another match against Bosnia will serve Mexico well in their World Cup preparations as they face a tough battle for 2nd place with Croatia in their World Cup group. Croatia is another crafty, technically gifted side, Mexico will prepare for by seeing how they match up with the current upgraded Bosnian roster.
What to Watch for
The Dragons are seeking revenge on a Mexican side thats had their number in the past, but are they really fit? Four key Bosnian players suffered knocks during the Ivory Coast Game. The Bosnian Tank Sead Kolasinac played a mere 15 minutes before being replaced by Sejad Salihovic who struggled to keep up with the Ivorian speed on the left flank. Kolasinac’s absence was noticed immediately, early reports are that none of the injuries are severe and that everyone is fine including Captain Spahic, right back Ognjen Vranjes. and the one, the only Asmir Begovic. Susic will look to integrate players who were unfit against Ivory Coast into the Mexico fixture, while keeping in tact the new and energetic formation that was so successful in the previous match. It will be interesting to see how the formation may shift if Senad Lulic and Ermin Bicackic are available and ready to go. Will the quick tiring yet sometimes brilliant Misimovic continue to run the midfield or will he be benched to make room for Hajrovic to stay in the starting lineup? Susic seems to have found a single striker lineup that was effective in pressing, speed and counter attacking, will the squad be able to maintain this despite lineup changes?
For years now the Bosnian fanbase has been looking far and wide for Elvir Rahimic’s replacement and many knew Besic was there all along. After an absence of more than a year due to arguments with the U-21 coach, Besic has been absent from the Senior team. After working things out with the coachign staff the Bosnian team once again has a true defensive mid at their disposal. Besic was everywhere against Ivory Coast, intercepting, starting counter attacks, tackling like a madman. Besic is only 21 years old, and to quote Safet Susic “Besic is a player that can be counted on for a long time”. It will be exciting to see how Besic handles the Latino Mexican midfield which will prepare him superbly for Argentina. An excellent showing in the World Cup is bound to get Besic a transfer into one of the top five leagues in Europe, somewhere he was able to be even two seasons ago.
The nightmare of seeing Miralem Pjanic wasted on the right flank was finally over against The Ivory Coast. Pjanic played the same role AS Roma coach Rudy Garcia has put him in all season, a deep lying playmaker. Against a less than fully garnished Ivory Coast team that was missing many players (The Toure Brothers, Gervinho, and Didier Drogba only played half an hour) Pjanic was able to masterfully keep both sides of the pitch in tact. Along side Muhammed Besic, Pjanic was able to go deep into the defensive half, retrieve the ball and start the attack for what seemed a much faster, more fluid Bosnian team. It will be different against Mexico as they are almost at full strength barring any injuries. Pjanic is primed for a repeat performance where he shows off his full set of skills.