While Bosnia are out of the tournament after the disappointing defeat to Nigeria, the Dragons should have more than enough motives to record their first ever triumph at the World Cup finals. Meanwhile, Iran missed a glorious opportunity to shock Argentina, but they could still progress if they defeat Bosnia and Nigeria lose their fixture.
Not good enough
Bosnia-Herzegovina narrowly missed out on the previous two major tournaments, but some strong performances in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers ensured they qualify for the first ever World Cup finals. And with the team arriving in Brazil in good spirits on the back of friendly wins over Ivory Coast and Mexico, they were tipped to progress from the group stage. The Dragons indeed produced a very good performance in the 2-1 defeat to Argentina, thus becoming favourites to defeat Nigeria in their second group fixture, but Safet Susic’s side were unable to prove their worth and the 1-0 defeat eliminated them from the tournament. In all fairness, Bosnia were very unfortunate to have a goal wrongfully disallowed, while missing a host of clear-cut chances, and it now remains to be seen if Pape Susic can rally his troops ahead of the Iran clash. If Bosnia manage to regroup and produce a performance they are capable of, the first victory at the World Cup finals will no longer remain just a dream.
Muhamed Besic and Miralem Pjanic have shaken off minor knocks, while Sejad Salihovic returned into action against Nigeria.
Iran impressed against Argentina
Tipped to be the whipping boys of Group F, Iran were eager to prove they deserve to play at this level and the reality is Team Melli have succeeded in their quest. And while they were far from impressive in the opening match against Nigeria, Carlos Queiroz’s side did well to record a goalless draw that put them in a good position to qualify. Iran then produced a stunning performance against mighty Argentina, matching their more illustrious opponents and missing several very good chances to score before conceding in the dying moments of the match. And while the team will be buoyed by that performance, Iran could also suffer from the heartbreaking defeat, whereas they cannot be expected to produce another such display. While their defence-minded approach worked like a charm in the first two games, this is the first time Team Melli need to attack the opposition, which is likely to create problems for Carlos Queiroz’s charges. It is for that reason that I seriously doubt they can pour more misery on Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Carlos Queiroz has no fresh injury worries and he is unlikely to make any changes to the side that faced Argentina.
Iran may be in better mood of the two sides as they could still qualify, but the fact they need to attack this time out could prove to be a major burden on the players’ backs. Bosnia, on the other hand, have enough quality to hit Team Melli on the break and I do expect them to win this match.
Top pick: Away win 2.20 (6/5) @ William Hill
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score 1.91 (10/11) @ Coral
Alternative pick 2: Dzeko to score 2.55 (14/9) @ 888sport