Bosnia-Herzegovina (National Football)

Bosnia and Herzegovina FIFA 2014 World Cup Team Guide

Sasa IbruljCorrespondent IMay 12, 2014

Bosnia and Herzegovina FIFA 2014 World Cup Team Guide

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Exactly 10 days after Safet Susic named his 24-man provisional squad, he will gather his team in Sarajevo and begin preparations.

    The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil will be the first major tournament for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Therefore, the whole nation is already treating the team like heroes.

    On the road to Brazil, the Dragons danced through their qualifying group, winning it ahead of Greece and Slovakia with an impressive goalscoring record.

    The spine of that team is on Susic's list, and the expectations are high. Bleacher Report brings you a complete Bosnia and Herzegovina World Cup guide that includes a closer look at the qualifiers, the squad, the manager and the key player.

Road to the Finals

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    After stumbling at the last hurdle in the last two campaigns, losing both times to Portugal in the play-offs, Bosnia and Herzegovina entered the qualifiers with huge confidence.

    Smashing Liechtenstein in the opener (8-1 in Vaduz) was a big boost for them, but it also showed that this time Susic had opted for attacking football as the key on the way to Brazil. Bosnia and Herzegovina topped the group from the outset, with their only true competitor being Greece.

    However, the goalless draw in Piraeus and impressive win at home (3-1) gave Susic's side the advantage. The fear that they could slip up came after a loss to Slovakia (0-1) in Zenica in September, but a couple of days later they beat the same rival in Zilina, after overturning a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1.

    Bosnia and Herzegovina relied on their attacking options, scoring 30 goals in 10 matches and finishing the qualifiers with a plus-24 goal difference.

    Their creative and attacking midfield made a difference against teams like Lithuania, Latvia and Greece, but it remains to be seen if they can compete with the best. An attacking approach has exposed some defensive flaws, and this is where Susic will have to improve his team.

     

     

    UEFA Qualifying Group G

    TeamPldWDLGFGAGDPts
    Bosnia and Herzegovina10811306+2425
    Greece10811124+825
    Slovakia103431110+113
    Lithuania10325911-211
    Latvia102261020-108
    Liechtenstein10028425-212

     

    Bosnia and Herzegovina top scorers

    Edin Dzeko 10

    Vedad Ibisevic 8

    Zvjezdan Misimovic 5

    Miralem Pjanic 3

     

    Results

    September 7, 2012

    Liechtenstein - Bosnia and H. 1-8

    (Goals: Misimovic (26, 31), Ibisevic (33, 39, 82), Dzeko 46, 64, 80)

     

    September 11, 2012

    Bosnia and H - Latvia 4-1

    (Misimovic (12, 54), Pjanic (44), Dzeko (90).

     

    October 12, 2012

    Greece - Bosnia and H 0-0

     

    October 16, 2012

    Bosnia and H - Lithuania3-0

    (Ibisevic (29), Dzeko (35), Pjanic (41)

     

    March 22, 2013

    Bosnia and H - Greece 3-1

    (Dzeko (29, 53), Ibisevic (36)

     

    September 6, 2013

    Bosnia and H - Slovakia 0-1

     

    September 10, 2013

    Slovakia - Bosnia and H 1-2

    (Bicakcic 70, Hajrovic 78)

     

    October 11, 2013

    Bosnia and H - Liechtenstein 4-1

    (Dzeko (27, 39), Misimovic (34), Ibisevic (38)

     

    October 15, 2013

    Lithuania - Bosnia and H0-1

    (Ibisevic 68)

Squad

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    Mindaugas Kulbis/Associated Press

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

    Defenders: Emir SpahicBayer (Bayer Leverkusen), Toni Sunjic (Zorya), Sead Kolasinac (Schalke), Ognjen Vranjes (Elazigspor), Ervin Zukanovic (Gent), Ermin Bicakcic (Braunschweig), Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros)

    Midfielders: Miralem Pjanic (Roma), Izet Hajrovic (Galatasaray), Mensur Mujdza (Freiburg), Haris Medunjanin (Gaziantepspor), Senad Lulic (Lazio), Anel Hadzic (Sturm), Tino Susic (Hajduk Split), Sejad Salihovic (Hoffenheim), Zvjezdan Misimovic (Guizhou Renhe), Senijad Ibricic (Erciyspor), Avdija Vrsajevic (Hajduk Split), Edin Visca (Istanbul BB)

    Forwards: Edin Dzeko (Manchester City) Vedad Ibisevic (Stuttgart)

Manager Profile: Safet Susic

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    Francisco Seco/Associated Press

    One of the best players in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the finest to play for Paris Saint-Germain, Safet Susic was adored by the Bosnian public even before he took over the national team in December of 2009.

    Huge popularity helped him succeed Miroslav Blazevic, who left the team after being enticed to China by a lucrative offer. At the time, Susic's coaching career was on a downward spiral.  After ending his playing career in 1992, he managed seven clubs, but only once made it to the following season. Becoming the national-team coach was a big chance for him to resurrect his coaching career, and that is exactly what he has done.

    In the first campaign—for Euro 2012—Bosnia and Herzegovina was in a group with France, Romania, Belarus, Albania and Luxembourg.  Their fate was decided in the last match in Paris. Bosnia took the lead thanks to Dzeko's strike in the 40th minute, but they were denied their place in Poland and Ukraine by a controversial penalty 12 minutes before the final whistle. In the play-offs, Bosnia played Portugal, just as in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers, and lost 6-2 in Lisbon after a goalless draw in Zenica.

    In the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, Susic relied on individual quality possessed by many of his players, and improvising with his tactics. Celebrated as a hero after the success in the qualifiers, Susic's support in the public eye has faded in recent months. The performances in some qualifying matches, as well as terrible displays against Argentina and Egypt in the last two friendlies, brought the coach under heavy fire. Many resent his style of coaching and his passive demeanour in the dugout, as well as a lack of authority from inside the squad.

    He did not help build bridges by introducing his nephew Tino to the squad and then fail to explain the reasons behind that decision.

    Susic splits the public in two, but he is aware that he will be judged on results at the World Cup.

Star Man: Edin Dzeko

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    Regarded as a failure, Edin Dzeko left his homeland when he was 18, replacing his parent club Zeljeznicar with Teplice in the Czech Republic. Even though he was a young prospect, Dzeko was often mocked by his own fans, and the move away from Grbavica Stadium was his only way to success.

    After good performances in the Czech league, Dzeko caught the eye of a certain Felix Magath, who paid around €4 million to take him from Teplice to Wolfsburg.

    That move proved up to be one of the best in the history of Wolfsburg. After scoring five goals in his first season, Dzeko exploded in 2008-09—adding 26 Bundesliga goals to his account. Wolfsburg won the league for the first and only time in their history, and Dzeko became one of the most sought-after strikers in the world.

    In January of 2011, in a transfer worth 32 million, Dzeko moved to Manchester City. He has helped the team land Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Community Shield honours.

    Dzeko opened his scoring account with the national team on his debut in a 3-2 win over Turkey in June of 2007. Since then, Dzeko has netted 33 goals, becoming the nation's top striker and arguably the best player in the country's modern history.

    Scoring eight goals (out of 16 this season) in the last 10 matches in the Premier League, Dzeko was a key man in a title-winning season for Manchester City. The Bosnian hope is that he'll remain in form this summer, because they know the Dragons depend on his goals.

One to Watch: Miralem Pjanic

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    Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

    The attacking style that Susic introduced in the qualifiers pushed prolific goalscorers like Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic into the spotlight. However, there is always a place for Miralem Pjanic.

    A talented midfielder, who just recently renewed his contract with AS Roma, Pjanic is the creative mastermind behind Bosnian success. With good vision, playmaking abilities and great technical skills, The Little Prince, as he is nicknamed in Bosnia, is probably the finest player the country has produced since independence.

    Pjanic was raised in Luxembourg, where his family settled during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He represented Luxembourg at youth level and was courted by the French FA, but he decided to reject all offers and play for the country of his birth. He was given his debut in 2008, and since then he has established himself as one of the key players in Susic's team.

    His role in the team is not strictly defined, since he often shares the pitch with Zvjezdan Misimovic—a former Bundesliga star with similar characteristics. Pjanic is often offered the place on the right side of midfield, but he leaves the impression that he enjoys the central role the most. The years that he spent alongside Juninho have helped him become one of the most prolific free-kick takers in Europe.

    He began his professional career in Metz, before moving to Lyon. Even though he is only 24, Pjanic has already made 250 appearances at the top level, including the Champions league.

    Pjanic was always considered to be an extremely talented player, but the last two years that he has spent in Roma have helped him mature, and he could easily be the key player in Brazil.

World Cup Record

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    David Cannon/Getty Images

    Bosnia and Herzegovina will be the only debutant at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The country gained its independence in 1992, having been part of Socialist Yugoslavia from 1945.

    Players from Bosnia and Herzegovina often took part in the World Cups under the Yugoslav flag, and some played for Croatia as well, but this will be the first time they will play in the World Cup as an independent country.

     

Group Fixtures

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Argentina vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina

    June 15, 2014, 19:00 Local time

    Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro

     

    Nigeria vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina

    June 21, 2014, 19:00

    Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba

     

    Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Iran

    June 25, 2014, 13:00

    Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador

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