Tag Archives: Bosnia vs Argentina

Safet Susic’s Flaws

He is the greatest player in the history of our country, the greatest national team coach in the history of our country, one of the most likable people coming from our country, and with his calm demeanor he has achieved one of Bosnia’s only accomplishments in the past two decades. Yet, like every man, he has his flaws.

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He’s stern, but fair

Pape’s flaws don’t come from how he played as a player. He was almost flawless, being declared by France Football in 2010 as the best player in the history of Paris Saint-Germain. Certainly one of the best players to come out of the former Yugoslavia, if not the best. Don’t believe me? Just check out some of his highlights below:

Yeah, his flaws don’t lie in his playing days. They lie here, in his coaching days.

Make no mistake about it, he achieved quite possibly the greatest accomplishment Bosnia has ever had as an independent nation, (I know, that’s not saying much, but still) by qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. And for that, he should be applauded. He kept his cool under pressure and kept much of our players in check during these qualifiers. He deserves all the praise in the world and deserves to be at the helm for the World Cup.

I have so much difficulty criticizing this guy is because he is really likable, and I have the utmost respect for him.  But, ever since that friendly against the United States, Bosnia has lost 3 of its last 6 games  (winning two of those by only one goal), after going undefeated for 9 straight games since the end of last year. Fittingly so, that game against the U.S. showed Safet’s main flaws when it comes to his tactics.

Here is the starting lineup for that friendly against the U.S.:

Bosnia-formation-tactics

First off, notice how imbalanced the right side of our pitch is. We have no defenders on that side. Salihovic is not a full back, he is a midfielder who is used at that position by Safet because, in his words, he has “no other solution” there when Mujdza is injured. Not only is there no defender there to stop the crosses coming in, but there’s no midfielder to slow the attack down the right flank.

I’m not entirely sure which of the two between Pjanic and Misimovic is supposed to be on that right sideline, but regardless, neither of them stay there for long. Even if Susic were to give instructions to Pjanic or Misimovic to make sure to stay on the right side of the pitch, it would simply not work, as neither of those players are right midfielders, they are both central midfielders who like to play up and down the middle.

This is a problem that has emerged in all of our struggles recently, as it was one of the main reasons why we were killed on our right side of the pitch in the recent game against Argentina, except this time it was Vrsajevic instead of Salihovic, who, believe it or not, is an even worse solution to that problem. Vrsajevic was left chasing behind Argentina’s attackers all game, as he simply doesn’t know how to stay back and was pushing up far all game. Vrsajevic just doesn’t work as a right back.

And herein lies Safet’s main problem: He chooses his starting 11 first, and then places them in a formation.

Meaning, he simply picks his 11 “best” players and somehow organizes them on the pitch. Because of this, in his eyes Salihovic is a must start. And Misimovic. And Ibisevic. He is left with nothing to work with because all of these players “can’t sit on the bench”.

He’s too loyal to certain players. He needs to be a coach and make some tough decisions. Instead of looking at the obvious and seeing the fact that Salihovic or Vrsajevic are not full backs, nor is Misimovic a right midfielder, Safet picks 11 players and simply says “go”.

This method worked, up until a point. When one of our players goes down or when we face a stronger opponent, this method doesn’t work. You have to have a balanced formation to play against the bigger teams. You can’t have 8 attackers and 3 defenders out there like he did against Argentina (Yes, this did happen, only three of our players stayed back while the other 8 pushed forward). It simply doesn’t work.

And no, he can’t use the excuse he has used in every loss so far, the fact that we are a small country and have “no viable solutions”. Because we do.

Let’s use the game against Argentina as a prime example as to how these problems are fixable.

First off, the right back position. No way Vrsajevic should have started at that position against some of the best offensive players in the world (Aguero, Di Maria, Higuain). He provides nothing on the defensive end, and this should have been a priority for Safet against Argentina.

Solution? Emir Dilaver, right back for Austria Wien. He technically has Austrian nationality, but a little persuading by our FA and some talks with Susic can get him on our side easily. But no, Susic has done none of this and seems to refuse to pursue another solution.

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The players are out there, it’s up to Susic to find them

Or how about Gordon Bunoza, like I suggested in my earlier article, Bosnian Prospects Worthy of a Call Up? Well, Safet has claimed he likes his full backs to be “speedy”, so he claims Bunoza wouldn’t work. That plan has done wonders for you, hasn’t it? By not being creative and being lazy, he has created this right back dilemma for himself.

Next, the fact that he started two (three?) strikers against one of the best attacking teams in the world blows my mind. I say three because Misimovic plays up as if he is a striker, but doesn’t touch the ball as if he is a goalkeeper. Both Ibisevic and Misimovic should have been benched that match, and Safet should have started Hajrovic (right midfielder anyone?) and Zahirovic (defensive midfielder) over those two. We would have at least stood a chance.

To reiterate, we do have solutions Safet, but they won’t fall in your lap like the Kolasinac situation every time. Of course we are not like other countries to have significant backups, but the solutions are there. It’s just up to you to find them.

Bosnia, by going to Brazil, have paved the way for Future Generations

It’s official. Bosnia and Herzegovina are going to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil! Qualifying for their first ever campaign, Susic’s men have done what many Bosnians have dreamed of for nearly two decades. By defeating Lithuania 1-0 on Tuesday, this Bosnian team has earned a prized spot in our short history.

The Game

The most important game in the history of our national team happened on Tuesday in Kaunas, Lithuania. Holding the future in their own hands, Bosnia had a chance to finish first in their qualifying group and directly qualify to their first ever World Cup. And boy was it nerve wrecking.

First Half (starting from Miralem’s 28th minute free kick)
 

45 minutes went by with little clear-cut chances. Miralem Pjanic had two free kicks in great position, only to force two fantastic saves from the Lithuanian goalkeeper Arlauskis. Half time came and boy, was it a nerve wrecking wait. Greece was leading Liechtenstein 1-0 (what else is new?) while our game was still goalless. As things stood during that never ending 15 minute break, we were not going to directly qualify for Brazil. We needed to score in the second half, and we needed to score soon.

Second Half
 

As the second half started, a different Bosnia showed up on the pitch. One that, instead of showing signs of nervousness and making bad decisions, came out playing fantastic football. Crosses were coming left and right, through balls were making their way into the penalty box. When Lulic was flagged for offside and Ibisevic had his shot saved yet again by the fantastic Arsauskis, instead of feeling frustrated, I let out a sigh of relief. Unlike that game against Slovakia in Zenica when we lost 1-0, I could tell we were going to score. I could see it in their body language, in the onslaught of attack our team was putting up against the ever weakening Lithuanian defense. It was only a matter of time.

And then, out of nowhere, a Dzeko cross found a completely unmarked Ibisevic in the middle, who only had to put his foot out to place the ball into the back of the net. And, well, the rest is history.

Good history. Proud history. History that people will tell to their grandchildren one day. Yes, it was that kind of history.

However, not only was this history one that was going to be looked back on as a wonderful, short-lived moment, it was the type of history that will forever change the future as well. And not just the future of the national team, but the future of the country as a whole as well.

Paving the Future

By qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, this national team did something that so few people in Bosnia have experienced since our country’s independence in the 1990’s: Success.

As one 52 year old unemployed, Bosnian man put if after the game on Sunday, “We all need some ‘Brazil.’ It’s not even about soccer anymore. It’s about this feeling many of us have almost forgotten and the younger ones have never experienced. The feeling of success.” And boy is he right.

With constant political bickering and division occurring among the people of Bosnia, we have had very little to be proud of over the past two decades. But one thing that has brought joy to many over the years is, you guessed it, our national team.

Bosnians celebrating after qualifying for the 2014 World Cup
 

Defying all odds and becoming better and better as our country becomes more and more divided, our national team has served as an illusion as to what we dream our country will become. By harboring players of different religions under one team with the goal of success in mind, the national team has served as an example of what the Bosnian people can do if they only work together under one cause: for the success of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Not only have they brought joy to millions of Bosnians around the world, this ‘Golden Generation’ has done it’s job and has now paved the way for future generations of our national team.

Qualification for the World Cup will do wonders for our FA, as about 8 million euros will be generated simply by qualifying for the World Cup. Not only will this money be of help, but the points that Bosnia will earn based on their performance in the 2014 World Cup will help better our FIFA Ranking, which of course is important in deciding how difficult or how easy our groups will be for future qualifying campaigns.

With the likes of Sead Kolasinac and other prospects soon joining our national team, the future most definitely looks bright. And for that reason, Bosnians, you can rejoice and celebrate. Celebrate your hearts out and be proud that you are Bosnian because we can finally say, as one ever loving commentator put it,

U Brazilu Smo!