Euro 2012 Qualifying Preview: Bosnia-Herzegovina – France
The Dragons have the ideal opportunity to take control of the group by defeating les Bleus on Tuesday evening...
By Robin Bairner
Friday night gave Bosnia a perfect start to their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign as they defeated Luxembourg 3-0 while group favourites France crashed to a shock home loss to Belarus. Now Group D’s supposed top two are due to meet in Sarajevo, and the hosts can open up a large looking lead should they pick up maximum points.
There were no problems whatsoever for Safet Susic’s side when they turned out at the Stade Josy Barthel at the beginning of the weekend. Three goals were struck in the first 16 minutes of play, including one from former Luxembourg youth internationalist Miralem Pjanic, to put the game comprehensively out of sight.
A victory was certainly anticipated on Friday, but even given the turbulence in the France camp over the last year, the Ljiljani will not simply expect to pick up maximum points on Tuesday. That’s not to say there’s a lack of confidence in the camp though.
“I'm not afraid of France even if I have great respect this team,” Emir Spahic, who has enjoyed tremendous success in Ligue 1 with upstarts Montpellier over the last year, declared to RMC. “After that I am aware that there are very good players who play in this squad. But we also have our qualities. I think this will be a very interesting match.”
Should Bosnia play to their potential, they have every chance of recording three points against a side still clearly in a state of disorganisation.
Still Singing The Bleus
The distance that France have to come in a short space of time was made extremely evident to new coach Laurent Blanc on Friday night, when his side toiled to a 1-0 reverse against Belarus at home.
Just as they appeared during Raymond Domenech’s era, les Bleus were rather one-paced and one-dimensional for long periods of that encounter, though they did carve out opportunities and might have put the ball in the net had they received more favourable breaks in the penalty box. Blanc’s men dominated the encounter but looked susceptible to a counterattack, which was exactly what caught them out just before the close of play.
Former Olympique de Marseille coach Rolland Courbis has explained to France Football that he feels ‘Le President’ tried to impress too much in the opening fixture. “With the team fielded on Friday, it was hard to do better,” he stated. “Laurent Blanc may have been too optimistic with his idea of beautiful game.
“Obviously, everyone would prefer to see the beautiful game. It's like with women; we would all prefer to go out with Miss France rather than an ugly one. But we must not close our eyes. This team is worse than we think. The situation is not complicated, it is very complicated.
“Laurent will have to leave aside his idea of beautiful game and return to simple things; building on successful recovery of the ball and real strength. This does not prevent us from scoring goals. You see, everything will be rectified Tuesday against Bosnia. I am under no concern.”
Should France lose in Sarajevo, which is a prospect not unthinkable, Blanc, who has promised to resign if les Bleus don’t reach Euro 2012, would suddenly find his dream job in the balance after just three fixtures.
There are unlikely to be big changes in the Bosnia side ahead of the France match, though it may well be that they elect to start with an additional midfielder. Miralem Pjanic is liable to be handed a creative role, while Emir Spahic, the captain, will marshal the defence; both men are based in France.
Offensive midfielder Haris Medunjanin recently turned out against Paris Saint-Germain in the Europa League, causing the Parc des Princes club problems in Israel for his Maccabi Tel Aviv side.
Eden Dzeko will be the main offensive threat.
Probable Starting XI: Hasagic; Mujdza, Nadarevic, Spahic, Jahic; Rahimic, Ibricic; Misimovic, Pjanic, Medunjanin; Dzeko
With Yoann Gourcuff still banned by FIFA, Laurent Blanc will not be able to field his favoured 4-2-3-1 system. Franck Ribery, Patrice Evra and Nicolas Anelka are all still banned by the FFF (French FA) following misdemeanours at the World Cup. Jeremy Toulalan is available again but wasn’t selected for the squad.
Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena are likely to be drafted in for the injured Guillaume Hoarau and Loic Remy. Louis Saha has also pulled out due to injury, following Lassana Diarra and Yohan Cabaye.
Probable Starting XI: Lloris; Sagna, Mexes, Rami, Clichy - M'Vila, A. Diarra, Diaby - Valbuena, Benzema, Malouda
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Top 3 Predictions
Bosnia 2-1 France
- 28.82 %
Bosnia 2-0 France
- 20.32 %
Bosnia 3-1 France
- 10.97 %
|Euro 2012 (EC)||Oct 11, 2011||France 1 - Bosnia 1|
|Euro 2012 (EC)||Sep 7, 2010||Bosnia 0 - France 2|
|Mar 5, 2014||Bosnia 0 - Egypt 2||FR|
|Nov 19, 2013||Argentina 2 - Bosnia 0||FR|
|Oct 15, 2013||Lithuania 0 - Bosnia 1||WCQ|
|Oct 11, 2013||Bosnia 4 - Liechtenstein 1||WCQ|
|Sep 10, 2013||Slovakia 1 - Bosnia 2||WCQ|
Miralem Pjanic is the player with the most obvious connection to France in the Bosnia side, having come through the youth ranks of Metz to sign for Olympique Lyonnais, where he still plies his trade. The young creative midfielder has received some criticism for his poor form at the start of the Ligue 1 campaign but has a chance to really silence his doubters on Tuesday. Having scored against Luxembourg, he should be full of confidence.
Yann M’Vila is likely to become a base from which the France team is built around for the next decade at least. The young Stade Rennais midfield has proven himself to be completely at home in the centre of the international team, impressing both against Norway and Belarus. Strong defensively, technically adept and physically imposing, the 20-year-old will have a major role to play to stop Bosnia threatening.