Bosnia's World Cup predictions
After four years of waiting, the time has come. Another World Cup is here, and our bloggers across all 32 competing countries have predicted the fate that awaits their team. The country's Outlook gives a general view of its situation ahead of the tournament, while Pitfalls takes a look at any potential problems. Each blogger will also predict the top scorer and breakout star and suggest how far that nation can go.
After a brilliant qualifying campaign, Bosnia-Herzegovina's two losses in friendlies against Argentina and Egypt scared the nation. Manager Safet Susic was heavily criticized for his stubbornness and attacking approach, while the players -- the biggest stars being the main target -- were under fire for a lack of fighting spirit. It looked like Bosnia's strongest weapons, their huge spirit and brilliant atmosphere, were lost.
However, things have drastically changed on their U.S. tour, in which Bosnia defeated Ivory Coast and Mexico. Susic showed some pragmatism, replacing his 4-4-2 with a more fluid 4-2-3-1, and Bosnia arguably looked better than in the qualifiers. It seems that the Dragons are in the best possible form, a sort of World Cup mode, and if they can replicate that to the pitch, anything is possible.
All 32 team previews and predictions
Brazil | Cameroon | Croatia | Mexico
Australia | Netherlands | Chile | Spain
Colombia | Greece | Ivory Coast | Japan
Costa Rica | England | Italy | Uruguay
Ecuador | France | Honduras | Switzerland
Argentina | Bosnia | Iran | Nigeria
Germany | Ghana | Portugal | USA
Algeria | Belgium | Russia | South Korea
Being the only debutant this year, experience could be the most serious issue the Bosnians have. They have never played in such a tournament, and the question is whether they are prepared well enough. When it comes to the pitch, two friendlies in the U.S. showed some positives, but they also confirmed some old problems and exposed some new issues. The transition game is still where Bosnia is struggling the most, counterattacks being the constant threat to their slow defense. Also, there is the problem of narrow selection that Susic has and the gap in the quality between his starting XI and the alternatives.
It must be Edin Dzeko. Bosnia's all-time top striker scored twice against Ivory Coast, improving his record to 35, nine more than Zvjezdan Misimovic. The Manchester City star ended the season in perfect fashion, scoring eight goals in his last 10 matches in the Premier League. Bosnians hope that he takes those same scoring boots to Brazil. The fact that Susic changed the system and made Dzeko the lone striker with couple of great suppliers in Miralem Pjanic and Misimovic behind him could help. As moody as he is, Dzeko looks the best when he is the biggest star of the team, and in Bosnia that is certainly the case.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the name of Muhamed Besic was rarely mentioned by Susic. In 2010, when he was given his debut, the Berlin-born defender was the youngest player to be capped in the country's history. In the meantime, Susic has given him only 68 minutes of competitive football, the Euro 2012 playoff against Portugal in 2011 being the last match he played. However, the lack of a proper holding midfielder forced Susic to rethink and test the young Ferencvarosi defender. He impressed against the Ivorians and Mexicans, making his coach say that he believes Besic is one of the rare players who could stop Lionel Messi. With all the defensive issues that the Bosnians have, Besic could be a surprising weapon in days to come.
PREDICTION: Last 16
As always, with the newcomer in football, everything is possible. The motivation this team has is huge. The side is considered to be the pride of the nation, one of the rare positives in a divided and poor country. The individual quality Bosnia have guarantees that they can do wonders, but at the same time, their inexperience and lack of depth could easily push them downhill. Advancing from the group would be equal to winning the title, but I think they are capable of playing in the last 16.