Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran: 6 Things We Learned
Bosnia-Herzegovina ended their debut appearance in the World Cup by defeating Iran 3-1 in Salvador on Wednesday. Their tournament was finished earlier, with two defeats to Argentina and Nigeria, but the Dragons bounced back to end on a positive note.
Iran, on the other hand, desperately needed a win, harboring the hopes of taking second place and a spot in the last sixteen. But their performance was far away from good enough. Carlos Queiroz's team was harmless for most of the match, leaving Bosnia with 66 per cent of possession, according to WhoScored.
Still, the Iranians are not the only team leaving Brazil with regrets—Bosnia-Herzegovina were denied by Nigeria only after a clear goal was disallowed and the post saved Edin Dzeko's late effort. Yet, their coach Safet Susic should take his part of blame, after his tactical flop against the Super Eagles.
However, both teams are out, and here is six things that we learned after Bosnia-Herzegovina defeated Iran.
Simple Is Usually Better
In his post-match interview with the Bosnian media, Safet Susic blamed the referees and bad luck for Bosnia-Herzegovina's failure to reach the second round, but this match actually proved him wrong.
Even though Susic’s lineup was changed, with five new names compared with the Argentina match, his tactics were clear and clean. He fielded the team in a 4-4-2 system with a diamond in the middle, but what is much more important is that he played all the players in their natural positions.
He failed to do that against Argentina and especially Nigeria, when he unnecessarily improvised. Bosnia-Herzegovina looked sharp, smart and cohesive against Iran—everything they lacked in their previous two matches. Their performance was far from impressive, but it left the impression of a routine job, while in the Nigeria match they were easily described as confused.
Susic’s decision to bench his only proper left-back, Sead Kolasinac, in the Nigeria match, and his lack of reaction after the opposition heavily used that gap, was one of the crucial moments for Bosnia's World Cup campaign. Referee Peter O’Leary, his assistants and bad luck were some of the reasons for Bosnia's exit, but Susic’s decisions were as well.
Pressure Can Be the Toughest Opponent
Iran had a historic chance to reach the second phase of the World Cup, and what is more, they had a perfect situation in hands. Bosnia-Herzegovina was supposed to be unmotivated and indifferent, in stark contrast to the brave Iranians.
But when it comes to psychology, things are never that easy. The Bosnians were unladen of the burden on their shoulders, and Susic's decision to introduce a couple of new—unproven—players did not help Iran.
One could feel the desire, the devotion and fighting spirit among the Iranians, but one could cut their nervousness in the air as well. In situations like this, legs become tired, every ball goes too far and every pass is wrong, especially when the team is limited like Iran is.
Queiroz Looked Like He Lost the Plot
However, even though Iran was under pressure and Bosnia-Herzegovina thwarted them with a solid plan, some questions for Carlos Queiroz should be raised.
The most important one—what was Iran's plan?
Obviously, Iran defended for a point against Nigeria and Argentina, but today they had to score and to beat Bosnia-Herzegovina, but it did not look like they tried that too much.
Iran surrendered possession and control of the middle to the Bosnians, presumably hoping to hit Bosnia on counter-attacks and set-pieces, but none of that happened. The Iranians were toothless for most of the time, leaving the Bosnians to decide their own destiny.
In this World Cup, Queiroz showed that he knows how to prepare the team for disciplined and well-organized defense, but when he needed to make a step forward and bring this team to the historic success, the Portuguese coach had no idea how to do it.
Of course, this brings us back to the limitations of this team, but we still expected Queiroz if not to succeed then at least to try something different.
Bosnia-Herzegovina Has Much More Potential
Aside from the fact that the Bosnians shot themselves in the foot against Nigeria, they'll leave Brazil with more positive impressions than negative ones.
The Dragons proved that they have the potential to become a serious football nation, one that could become a constant in the major tournaments, and now it's on them to build on all this.
This World Cup showed that Bosnia-Herzegovina is more than two or three big stars, introducing youngsters like Muhamed Besic or Sead Kolasinac to the big stage. The fact that Asmir Begovic just celebrated his 27th birthday, that Dzeko is one year older and Miralem Pjanic only 24, means that this generation has not had its final say.
World Cup 2014 was Bosnia's first major tournament, but with the potential they have, it should not be the last, that's for sure.
Time to Move on for Iran
After Team Melli's exit from the World Cup, it's time for them to turn to a new coach. A week ago, Carlos Queiroz once again confirmed that he has decided he will not stay with Iran.
He explained his decision by citing a lack of support from the government, but highlighted that he believes that this team gained a huge experience in this World Cup and that it can develop further.
Now the Iranians have to create a good system and a plan for the future, and find the best man suited for the job. Judging by the past, this will not be easy, but football in this country has big potential, and it needs better organization for the future.
Bosnia Must Give a Key Role to Miralem Pjanic
For the first time in two years, Miralem Pjanic was given his favorite role as playmaker in the national team's shirt, and Bosnia-Herzegovina looked faster, more mobile, more creative—and better.
With all due respect to Edin Dzeko's brilliant scoring record in the Dragons' shirt, and the same from Vedad Ibisevic, Miralem Pjanic is the best Bosnia currently has.
Roma's star midfielder both scored and assisted in this World Cup, once again confirming that he is ready to take the responsibility of leading this team. Pjanic is a fine creator with excellent vision, and he needs to be given keys of the Bosnian destiny.
He proved that he deserves it.