Slovakia or Republic of Ireland await the winners of this UEFA EURO Qualifying Play-off semi final match-up in Zenica as Bosnia & Herzegovina aim to qualify for the competition for the first time, while Northern Ireland are looking to book their place at a second consecutive European Championship.
Who is playing?
Bosnia & Herzegovina vs Northern Ireland
What competition are Bosnia and Northern Ireland playing in?
UEFA EURO Qualification Play-offs
When is Bosnia vs Northern Ireland?
19:45 GMT, Thursday 8th October 2020
What stadium is hosting Bosnia vs Northern Ireland?
Bilino Polje Stadium, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina
What channel is Bosnia vs Northern Ireland on?
Sky Sports Premier League
Bosnia vs Northern Ireland Summary
The innovative UEFA Nations League has given these two sides a second chance at qualification for next summer’s European Championship. Being two of the best performing sides in the inaugural edition of the competition has allowed them a chance to play in the Play-offs in which the final four sides will be determined.
This one off semi-final in Zenica will decide who goes through to face the winners of the section’s other semi-final between Slovakia and the Republic of Ireland, who will then play for one of those four remaining spots.
Bosnia are still relative newcomers to international football, only receiving FIFA membership in 1995 after the breakup of Yugoslavia and this would be their first ever qualification. The visitors debuted at the previous finals in France, bowing out at the Last 16 stage to Wales, and will look to cause an upset here to potentially set up an all-Irish final with the Republic next month.
Bosnia Team News and Form
Bosnia & Herzegovina being seeded in League A in the UEFA Nations League means they have stiffer competition to face as opposed to their opponents here. They have already faced Italy and Poland and will face the Poles again and the Dutch after they host Ian Baraclough’s side.
They were unfortunate against Italy. Only a wicked deflection off Toni Sunjic from Stefano Sensi’s low effort prevented them from taking three points away from Florence after Edin Dzeko had given the Eastern Europeans an early lead. They were outclassed just three days later though, beaten 2-1 at home to Poland, but it was to be expected after Bajevic heavily rotated his squad.
Miralem Pjanic has returned to the setup after missing September’s fixtures while Elvir Koljic, who started against Poland, has had to pull out of the squad after breaking his ankle playing for Universitatea Craiova in Romania last weekend. Ermin Bicakcic, Eldar Civic and Haris Duljevic have all also had to pull out with injuries.The full Bosnian squad can be found here.
Northern Ireland Team News and Form:
Fans of the Green and White Army will hope they do not return to the footballing wilderness since Michael O’Neill’s departure to Stoke. With arguably their best manager venturing pastures new, Ian Baraclough has not had the best of starts in the job. A crushing 5-1 defeat to an Erling Haaland-inspired Norway overshadowed a resolute fightback to earn a draw with ten-men in Romania.
The performance in Bucharest showed signs of the O’Neill-blueprint: up against it, a man light, and seeing very little of the ball, but they still snatched a late equaliser. However, back on home soil, they had absolutely no answer for the attacking potency of Norway, as they shipped five at home for the first time in 18 years since a 5-0 defeat to Spain at Windsor Park.
Jonny Evans is back for Northern Ireland after missing the last squad with injury, while there are also places in the squad for Sunderland’s Tom Flanagan and uncapped Alistair McCann, who has been promoted from the under-21s. The full Northern Ireland squad can be found here.
Bosnia Last 5 Matches:
- Poland (H) 1-2 Nations League loss
- Italy (A) 1-1 Nations League draw
- Liechtenstein (A) 0-3 EURO Qualifier win
- Italy (H) 0-3 EURO Qualifier loss
- Greece (A) 2-1 EURO Qualifier loss
Northern Ireland Last 5 Matches:
- Norway (H) 1-5 Nations League loss
- Romania (A) 1-1 Nations League draw
- Germany (A) 6-1 EURO Qualifier loss
- Netherlands (H) 0-0 EURO Qualifier draw
- Czech Republic (A) 2-3 Friendly win
|15th October 2018||BIH 2-0 NIR||Nations League|
|8th September 2018||NIR 1-2 BIH||Nations League|
Bosnia Top Scorers:
Edin Dzeko (59 International Goals) – Far and away Bosnia’s record goalscorer, Dzeko has more than double the amount of goals anybody else has achieved for the former Yugoslav nation and being captain and the record cap holder, he is the true Bosnian talisman.
Miralem Pjanic (14 International Goals) – The only man in the squad with a reputation on a par with Dzeko is the new Barcelona midfielder. The former-Juve and Roma playmaker, like Dzeko, is in his 30s and will be a huge miss for the national side once he hangs up his boots.
Northern Ireland Top Scorers:
Kyle Lafferty (19 International Goals) – The ultimate journeyman, with 12 clubs to his name, Lafferty enjoyed a very fruitful spell with the national team as they qualified for the 2016 European Championships, scoring seven in nine qualifiers. His international game time has been hindered by a stagnating club career of late.
Steven Davis (11 International Goals) – Davis will become the outright record cap holder if he makes his 120th appearance here and being one of the few Northern Ireland players to have played Premier League football extensively throughout his career.
- Since gaining independence, Bosnia & Herzegovina have still yet to qualify for the European Championships.
- Despite being named manager in December 2019, Dusan Bajevic had to wait almost 9 months to take charge of his first game last month against Italy.
- Uncapped Bosnian Benjamin Tatar is the only player in either squad who plays his football in their respective country’s domestic league.
Andrew’s Betting Tips
In every game involving Bosnia since 2019, there have been over 1.5 goals scored and for Northern Ireland, over the same period, nine of their 12 internationals have seen a similar feat, including both matches last month against Romania and Norway. Back over 1.5 goals at 4/9* with Mark Jarvis.
Despite their recent reputation as plucky underdogs, Northern Ireland are becoming an ageing side who have recently lost an inspiring coach that led them to their last major tournament. Bosnia have the firepower on paper to win and I believe they will deliver on home turf too, at odds of 19/20* with Mark Jarvis.
Basaksehir legend Edin Visca was the talisman behind the Istanbul-club’s first ever Turkish Super Lig title last season, being the only player in the division to register double-figure goals and assists (13 and 12), a feat he also managed the season previously too. I expect him to start on the right of an attacking three for the Dragons. Visca to score anytime is 16/5* with Mark Jarvis.
*Odds as of the time of writing (Tuesday 6th October 2020) are subject to change.
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