Portugal vs. Bosnia Herzegovina Preview and Pick – World Cup Qualifying

Portugal vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina World Cup Qualifying Estadio da Luz Lisbon, Portugal 3:30 PM EST Saturday November 14, 2009
by Jason Green at Predictem.com

Match Line: Portugal is the home favorite in this match posted at 1.50 with Bosnia as the away underdog posted at 7 with a draw at 4.00.
Over/Under: 2.5 goals.

In a huge World Cup qualifying match in Lisbon this Saturday night Portugal faces a tough Bosnia team. Both teams finished 2nd in their respective World Cup qualifying group, which means the winner of this home and away series will qualify for South Africa next summer while the loser will be watching the World Cup from home.

Portugal was a semifinalist in the 2008 World Cup and they barely made it to this playoff after finishing behind Denmark in group play and narrowly finishing ahead of Sweden. They were the major favorites to win the group, but lost games they were expected to win. They began the qualifying poorly, but came on in the late stages when Brazilian-born striker Liedson was naturalized and was added to the squad. Head coach Carlos Queiroz has been widely criticized for his match tactics, but if he can guide Portugal to the World Cup all will be forgiven. However, that will not be easy since star Cristiano Ronaldo will not play in this match.

Bosnia was the surprise 2nd place finisher in their qualifying group finishing ahead of Belgium and a solid Turkey squad. They lost their last match 5-2 against group winner Spain and even though the match did not mean anything since they had already qualified it came into question if Bosnia can keep up with world-class teams. Bosnia is looking for their 1st ever World Cup berth. To say this is a big match is an understatement and head coach Miroslav Blazevic recently stated, “Never in my 40-year-long career have I ever had a more important match.”

Portugal Recent Form:
10/14/09 Portugal 4 Malta 0 (WC Qualifying)
10/10/2009 Portugal 3 Hungary 0 (WC Qualifying)
9/9/2009 Hungary 0 Portugal 1 (WC Qualifying)
9/5/2009 Denmark 1 Portugal 1 (WC Qualifying)
8/12/2009 Liechtenstein 0 Portugal 3 (Friendly)

Bosnia-Herzegovina Recent Form:
10/14/2009 Bosnia 2 Spain 5 (WC Qualifying)
10/10/2009 Estonia 0 Bosnia 2 (WC Qualifying)
9/9/2009 Bosnia 1 Turkey 1 (WC Qualifying)
9/5/2009 Bosnia 2 Armenia 0 (WC Qualifying)
8/12/2009 Bosnia 2 Iran 3 (Friendly)

Obviously the big news for Portugal is that Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo will not play. He was called up for the match, but team doctors said he is not match fit. Manchester United’s Nani will take his place in the starting lineup. Chelsea FB Bosingwa will not play in this match due to injury.

Bosnia has a full squad and a big squad for the home and away fixture with 26 players. So many players were put on the squad because Portugal opponents pick up many yellow cards. There are no big injuries for the Bosnian team.

Bosnia will be more than happy with a draw and they will play a very defensive game with a 3-5-2 formation to try to clog up the midfield and keep Portugal from setting up their attack.

Since Cristiano Ronaldo is out the offensive load for Portugal may fall on Atletico Madrid striker Simao. He is in great form, as he has 3 goals in the last two World Cup qualifying matches.

Bosnia features the attacking trio of Edin Dzeko, Vedad Ibisevic, and Zlatan Muslimovic and they are, pretty much all the offense for them, so if the solid Portuguese defense can keep them from finding the back of the net the home side will be in good shape.

Edin Dzeko is the best out of the 3 and the solid Wolfsburg striker will have to be marked all match by the Bosnian defenders.

Portugal will attack in this game to get the home points and they have to be wary of the counter-attack from the Bosnians.

Bosnia G Nemanja Supic will be under attack all game from Portugal and he has to have a solid match in the box.

Jason’s Pick: Even without Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal has more world-class players and they will punch through the clogged midfield and get their chances to score. I see Portugal winning by a score of 2-0 in this match.