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World Cup

  • June 25, 2014
  • • 17:00
  • • Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Bahia
  • Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo
  • • Attendance: 48011
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Bosnia-Herzegovina - Iran Preview: Asians chasing faint hope of qualification

Bosnia-Herzegovina - Iran Preview: Asians chasing faint hope of qualification

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Carlos Queiroz's men need to win against Safet Susic's eliminated side and rely on Nigeria losing to Argentina in Porto Alegre to have any chance of making the round of 16

By Mark Doyle in Salvador

Iran boss Carlos Queiroz is likely to pick a more attacking line-up for his side’s must-win meeting with already-eliminated Bosnia-Herzegovina at Arena Fonte Nova on Wednesday.

Iran employed a compact 4-5-1 for their previous two Group F games and, after picking up a point in their opener against Nigeria, were only denied a second successive 0-0 draw by a sensational last-minute strike from Argentina captain Lionel Messi.

Iran had looked the more likely scorers during the second half of their game with the Albiceleste in Belo Horizonte, with Queiroz boldly switching to what was effectively a 4-4-2 for the dying minutes, throwing on Alireza Jahan Bakhsh in support of Reza Ghoochannejhad.

Given Iran must defeat Bosnia and Herzegovina to have any chance of progressing to the second stage at the expense of Nigeria, who face Argentina in their final fixture, the Portuguese coach will be considering starting Jahan Bakhsh, with Ashkan Dejagah the man most likely to make way.

Queiroz must also decide whether to continue with Masoud Shojaei on the right-hand side of midfield or recall the man who replaced him in Belo Horizonte, Khosro Heydari.

Bosnia-Herzegovina had arrived in Brazil with high hopes of progressing to the last 16 but, after opening with a 2-1 loss to Argentina, their qualification hopes were ended by a controversial 1-0 defeat against Nigeria.

Coach Safet Susic has already admitted that motivating his star men for their final fixture could be problematic and there are now reports that certain members of his squad do not want to play in Salvador.

However, key duo Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko are expected to start. The former did not train on Monday but he was purely being protected for the game at Arena Fonte Nova.

Vedad Ibisevic is looking to be reunited with Dzeko in attack, after being restricted to the role of substitute for Bosnia’s opening two games, but Susic is expected to persevere with the more pragmatic 4-5-1 he embraced after employing a dynamic but vulnerable 4-4-2 formation in qualifying.

Related

Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Players to Watch
Miralem Pjanic
Miralem Pjanic
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 8
Games Goals YC RC
3 1 0 0

It would be a shame if one of the game’s most talented young playmakers departs Brazil without having made some sort of lasting impression upon the World Cup. Miralem Pjanic is coming off the back of a wonderful season at Roma – his stunning solo strike against AC Milan was arguably the goal of the Serie A season – and he has been one of his country’s better performers in their two games to date. However, his precision passing and fancy footwork went unrewarded against both Argentina and Nigeria. The 24-year-old midfielder is more than capable of ripping Iran to shreds, though.

R. Ghoochannejhad
R. Ghoochannejhad
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 0
Games Goals YC RC
3 1 0 0

‘Gucci’ made his Iran debut less than two years ago, having represented Netherlands at underage level. However, he wasted little time in not only winning over his compatriots and coach Carlos Queiroz, netting seven goals in his first seven appearances for the land of his birth. The Charlton Athletic striker has continued to impress in Brazil, particularly in Iran’s second outing against Argentina, causing Federico Fernandez all sorts of problems with his searing pace and intelligent movement. Indeed, all Ghoochannej has been lacking thus far is a goal. It would not be a surprise if it arrived in Salvador.

Prediction

It is nigh on impossible to predict how Bosnia will play at Arena Fonte Nova. Susic has spoken of bowing out in "honourable" fashion and selecting some fringe players should at least boost the motivation levels, but the fact remains that this game means more to Iran. However, Queiroz’s side have yet to find the back of the net in Brazil and even struggled for goals during their qualifying campaign, so while a more adventurous approach might see them break their duck, expect them to prove more vulnerable at the back as a consequence.

Editor's Prediction
Bosnia 1
Iran 1

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