Injury concerns, Edin Dzeko & five things that will settle Euro 2012 decider between France & Bosnia

The top two in Group D meet in the final qualifier to decide who will book an automatic ticket to Euro 2012. assesses the key factors which could decide the showdown
By Mohammed Ali

The stage is set. In the final round of qualification matches in Group D, France and Bosnia & Herzegovina lock horns to decide who will book an automatic ticket to Euro 2012, and who will be forced to negotiate a daunting, and potentially tricky route through next month's play-offs.

For France, it's a route they would rather avoid. After the controversial, and now infamous, 2009 World Cup qualifying play-off against the Republic of Ireland, Laurent Blanc must surely be hoping to get the job done early to commence preparations for Poland and Ukraine.

With Les Bleus fans enjoying a rejuvenated relationship with the national team, defeat - or indeed failure - can hardly be an option for the two-time European champions.

For Bosnia, qualifying for a first major tournament as an independent nation would be the pinnacle of national sporting achievements in the previously war-torn country. Although they had the chance to set the record straight two years ago in a World Cup qualifying play-off against Portugal, which ultimately ended in a 2-0 aggregate defeat, Safet Susic and his countrymen will be hoping to spring a Balkan surprise to appease the estimated 12,000 fans expected to travel to the French capital.

A draw will suffice for France to embark on their eighth appearance at the European Championships, whilst anything less would see the Dragons pip Les Bleus to top spot and achieve a maiden appearance at a Euro finals.

Below, lists five aspects that could decide both sides' fate in this enthralling encounter.

In a game of such importance, it was inevitable that bad luck would somehow creep into the national team.

Some of France's best players, including Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery and Bacary Sagna, have been forced to withdraw with injury.

Further setbacks to Yohan Cabaye, Patrice Evra and Adil Rami have left Laurent Blanc with more than enough to mull over ahead of a testing encounter in which the nation expects.

It remains to be seen whether Bosnia & Herzegovina prey on this, a depleted Les Bleus side shorn of their most notable talent. Nevertheless, a hard task has become that little bit harder.


The 'Bosnian Diamond' has started the season with a flurry of goals for Manchester City. Already possessing seven strikes for club and country, Edin Dzeko is once again illustrating the type of form which catapulted him to continental recognition with Wolfsburg a couple of seasons ago.

It is for this reason that the Dragons' fans hope that the 25-year-old will spearhead their attack as they attempt to pull off a major shock and qualify for a maiden tournament.

Dzeko is the only world-class player Susic has at his disposal, and he, along with 4 million Bosnians, is hoping that his impressive partnership with Zvjezdan Misimovic (should the Dynamo Moscow man start) will push the visitors past the finishing line. His industrious nature, fierce strike and technical ability will unsettle a makeshift French rearguard.


Bosnia & Herzegovina may certainly pose a threat down the middle, but it is pressure on the flanks that could prove to be their undoing.

In a department that has largely been spared by the latest injury crisis, bar the withdrawal of Franck Ribery, Laurent Blanc will certainly be counting on the sheer efficiency of the wide men on Tuesday evening.

Florent Malouda and the ever-improving Loic Remy threw weight behind this notion with an assured display on Friday in the 3-0 win over Albania. The duo bossed the flanks with some swagger, pace and poise to turn a potentially awkward encounter into a fairly straightforward one. Though Bosnia are most certainly no pushovers, this is a position where Susic should be displaying some concern and applying some caution too.


A strength that Susic can however, base his tactics upon, is a solid rearguard. The Dragons are unbeaten in five games, and have not had their last line of defence breached in that streak either.

The sheer ability of Asmir Begovic in goal, with a back-line comprised of the experienced Emir Spahic, Sasa Papac, Mensur Mujdza and Boris Pandza, ensures that scoring against Bosnia is no easy feat.

Their defensive proficiency will be put under serious examination by France, but the re-assurance of a reliable defence could pave the way for Tuesday's visitors to focus on scoring the goals they need at the other end.


Quite simply, the man to watch is Marseille's Loic Remy. The 24-year-old has blossomed into an exciting prospect for Les Bleus following the withdrawal of more established attackers.

Principally placed on the wing on Friday evening, Remy drifted in continuously, terrorising the Albanians and connecting well with Samir Nasri.

Displaying fantastic bursts of pace, dribbling and invention, the former Nice striker rounded off a complete performance with a well-taken goal to cement his importance to the national team.

Often tagged the 'next Thierry Henry' due to sharing some traits with the legend, Remy will be hoping to emulate his idol and put Bosnia & Herzegovina to the sword with another fantastic outing to seal both his place in the team and his nation's place at Euro 2012.

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