Having already secured their 2018 FIFA World Cup place Belgium travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina with little to play for. The situation is completely different with the hosts who need to grab points in order to remain in the top-eight second-placed teams who will be included in the qualification play-offs.
Bosnia Under Pressure
Bosnia and Herzegovina finish their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification with matches against group leaders Belgium and at Estonia three days later. Sitting second in Group H with only a point ahead of Greece, Mehmed Bazdarevic’s men need to be on top of their game in the final stage of the qualifying process in order to have any chance of clinching the World Cup berth. Four wins, two draws and two defeats are less than what Bosnia fans had been hoping for, especially after the emotionally difficult 3-2 defeat at Cyprus toward the end of August. Bosnia grabbed a two-goal lead in the first half but then inexplicably let the lead slip through their fingers as Cyprus scored three goals in ten minutes to completely overturn the deficit. Bosnia bounced back days later with a 4-0 win at Gibraltar but the Cyprus match could return to haunt them if Bosnians fail to get anything out of their clash with Belgium.
Bosnia heads into the crucial Belgium qualifier without their biggest star Miralem Pjanic. Ermin Bicakcic, Sanjin Prcic and Jozo Simunovic are also ruled out through injuries.
Roberto Martinez’s Belgium glided through Group H with only a 1-1 draw against Belgium ruining their perfect score. Seven wins and that one draw were more than enough however for the total of 22 points and a comfortable eight-point cushion in front of their next rivals. Belgium has been impressive throughout the qualifiers having conceded only three goals and scored whopping 35. As a side boasting some of the most talented players on the planet, Belgium has thus failed to prove its quality at the international stage and Roberto Martinez is hoping that the World Cup in Russia will be his team’s big break. Belgium is coming off from a frustrating Euro 2016 campaign which saw them crash out in the quarterfinals at the hands of Wales. On the back of 11-match unbeaten run, however, Belgium have every right to be confident about their quality. Despite the lack of competitive angle in Bosnia, Martinez’s men are expected to give their best to head into the final qualifying match unbeaten.
Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku has sustained an ankle injury which will keep him out of the team for the Bosnia match, but the in-form forward should be back in the squad for Cyprus.
With everything to play for, Bosnia is expected to go full force ahead straight from the off. the likes of Edin Dzeko and Sead Kolasinac offer a promise that Bosnia will be able to make it happen against the world-class Belgium, but the Red Devils are a force to be reckoned with and the fact they have nothing but pride to fight for will not prevent them from outing in all they’ve got.
Top pick: Both teams to score – yes 1.71 (5/7) @188Bet
Alternative pick 1: Draw no Bet – Bosnia 2.10 (11/10) @StanJames
Alternative pick 2: Over 2.5 goals 1.83 (5/6) @Unibet