Edin Dzeko and 5 Bosnia-Herzegovina World Cup Players to Watch in Brazil
Safet Susic will face journalists next Monday and recite 23 names that will be on the passenger list on the flight to Rio.
However, not many surprises are expected. On more than one occasion, the man himself admitted that his selection is very limited and that he has to rely on the team that he had in the qualifiers.
The difference in quality between first-choice players and their alternatives is huge, so Susic has pinned his hopes to a nucleus that has been built in the previous three campaigns.
This is the same generation that lost to Portugal in the play-offs twice, but also had France on the ropes in Paris in 2011 when a controversial Samir Nasri penalty denied them a place in Poland and Ukraine.
The generation that began its rise under the guidance of Miroslav Blazevic in 2008 has now matured and will be at its peak in Brazil.
Bleacher Report analyses the Bosnian team and answers the question of who will be the striking power for the Dragons.
Manchester City, 28 years old, 61 caps, 33 goals
He may not be everyone's favorite, but Edin Dzeko is arguably the best player that has ever represented Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It is not just the fact that he has scored 33 goals, which makes him the all-time top scorer, but his ability to take responsibility when it's needed is pivotal.
72 percent of those goals came in competitive matches, including 10 in the 2014 qualifying campaign. Even though most of the players in Susic's team play in big European leagues, Dzeko is the one that has the most experience at the top level and has garnered top honours.
His goals were decisive in Wolfsburg's title run in 2008/2009 and his 92nd-minute equaliser against QPR in 2012 made Sergio Aguero's goal count for Manchester City's title.
His scoring tally now stretches to 189 goals in 389 matches for club and country, and Bosnians know that if Dzeko takes his scoring boots to Brazil, their chances of getting to the second round drastically increase.
AS Roma, 24 years old, 46 caps, 8 goals
A picture is worth 1,000 words, but video is even better. This clip of Miralem's goal against Milan last week says enough about his skill and technique. He went through Milan's defence like a hot knife through butter and showed how cold-blooded he can be with the final blow.
In Brazil, that is what Bosnian fans are hoping for, as he will be given the role of the bandmaster. Creative as he is, Little Prince loves to have a ball at his feet and build the game.
Susic should form his team around him. Pjanic's stats in Serie A speak in his favour—Squawka indicates that he has created 67 chances and boasts an 88 percent pass accuracy this season, making him the best midfielder in the league.
Pjanic has another powerful weapon. Years that he spent with his mentor, Juninho, in Lyon turned him into a free-kick specialist with superb shooting skills.
Lazio, 28 years old, 32 caps, 1 goal
Even though Lulic received his debut for the national team in a controversial friendly against Azerbaijan in 2008, his name was almost unknown in Bosnia until 2010.
After a very good performance for Swiss side Young Boys against Tottenham Hotspur in Champions league qualification, he promptly became a star.
Less than six months later, he moved to Lazio and became a regular for both club and country. The left-footed winger has often been used as a left-back in Susic's system, but in Brazil he will be given more of an attacking role.
His impact from the flank could be decisive for Bosnian hopes in Brazil—Dzeko knows how to score goals, but he'll need a consistent supply.
Bayer Leverkusen, 34 years old, 72 caps, 3 goals
Not many players in the national team have the charisma that Spahic has. Even though he is often criticized for having too much influence on the team, Spahic acts like a true leader of the generation.
After playing for Lokomotiv Moscow, Montpellier and Sevilla, Spahic joined Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen and reached the Champions League quarter-finals. It was his first appearance in elite club competition and the same stands for the major tournaments, which means that he's living the best days of his career—regardless of his age.
Capped 72 times, he is the defending bedrock that Susic builds his back four on. If not the fastest and most disciplined player, Spahic is a true fighter and his contribution to the team in a psychological sense is huge.
Stoke City, 26 years old, 28 caps, 0 goals
Begovic was almost lost to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In November 2008, he was at Independence Park in Kingston, Jamaica, where Canada lost in World Cup qualification, but his contribution was reduced to being an unused substitute.
The fact that he did not enter the pitch changed his career. If he had played that day, he would be tied to Canada, the country where his family fled during the war.
After the call from the homeland came, however, he decided to switch and represent Bosnia. Now he is the undisputed No. 1 and one of the most important players on the team.
He will be a busy man in Brazil, facing Aguero, Lionel Messi and other top stars in the opening match, but he is a stopper in a fine form and with huge self-confidence.
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