Bosnia and Herzegovina will face the Republic of Ireland in the first leg of the Euro 2016 play-offs tonight (13th November, Friday). Each team has the opportunity to reach the summer’s European Championship.
Germany and Wales usurped Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the boys in green are third behind Germany and Poland. Both nations finished strongly the qualifying campaigns, so the two-legged tie will absorb much attention and interest.
Bosnia and Herzegovina will take advantage of the first leg, because it will be played on their home land. The team is powerful and in strong form. They succeeded in ending the campaign with three wins, one of which was a triumphal 2-0 victory against Wales.
Mehmed Bazdarevic will count on the great form of his team, especially on Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko.
Ireland should be careful with Pjanic and follow his steps. He is a strong player, who has good technical skills, his passing range is refined and has honed football instincts. Ireland should keep a close eye on him, otherwise he may hurt them.
On the other hand, Ireland is a strong team, as well. The Irish managed to achieve spectacular victory over Germany, who are the world champions.
It looks like a difficult task for the Irish, because they will play without several names. Hull City midfielder David Meyler, 26 years old, has an injury of the knee. He is expected to be out of the field for around eight weeks.
Striker Shane Long will miss the first leg on Friday due to foot injury, but he will play on the second leg on Monday in Dublin. He hit the great victory over Germany. He will be replaced by striker Daryl Murphy.
Goalkeepers Keiren Westwood, Rob Elliot and Shay Given are ruled out. Charlton keeper Stephen Henderson will be replacing Elliot and Westwood, and Darren Randolph has been called up after Given. Defender Paul McShane is also included in the injury list, but he may be playing on Monday.
Both Jonathan Walters and John O’Shea are suspended for the first leg. Marc Wilson from Stoker and Aston Villa’s Ciaran Clark are likely to start in Zenica.
Even so, the Green Army is capable of winning the first leg in Zenica. Martin O’Neill’s team will look for a good result to turn back to the capital of the Republic of Ireland for the 2nd leg tie on Monday. Moreover, the Irish team has experience in play-offs in the two-legged matches. They played against Estonia in the same stage and won both matches four years ago.