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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

EURO 2012 Play Offs : Preview (Part One)

Bosnia vs Portugal

Another triumph over the Balkans is on the cards

Bosnia have never qualified for a major international tournament. The European Championships have been Potugal's forte but the trophy has eluded them to date. The last time these two teams met was in the play-offs for the 2010 World Cup and Portugal emerged victorious in both legs of the tie.

In the group stage of qualification, Bosnia finished just a point behind France to qualify for the play-offs. They won all their games at the Bilina Polje and their only loss at home(to Les Blues) came at Asim Ferhatovic stadium. With a 62.5 win percentage at the Bilina Polje, Bosnia seem to be in a fairly good position with respect to the numbers game.

Portugal were expected to qualify for EURO 2012 without much difficulty. A disastrous draw against Cyprus at home and losses away at Norway and Denmark almost saw Paulo Bento's team crash out in the qualifiers. After scraping through on goal difference, Ronaldo and co. will have to come out all guns blazing if they are to beat this determined Bosnian squad.

Bosnia scored the most number of goals in their group and will be looking to Manchester City superstar Edin Dzeko, former Valldolid midfielder Haris Medunjanin and vice captain Zvjezdan Misimovic to thump in a few goals. A lot will also be expected of Roma starlet Miralem Pjanic. Bosnia's defensive record at home has been pretty good off late. Mensur Mujdza could be in for a torrid night as he will most probably have to play on the same wing as Crisitano Ronaldo.

Portugal have a lot of big names on paper but they have failed to deliver so far. Former Manchester United teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Nani will look to destroy the Bosnian defence and finish this tie off. Portugal will be without Zenit attacker Danny and will dearly miss Ricardo Carvalho in the centre of defence. Portugal have been unable to maintain a clean sheet after the retirement of Carvalho and that could haunt them over the two legs.

Players to watch out for : Pjanic(Bosnia) ; Ronaldo(Portugal)

My prediction : Bosnia 1-3 Portugal

Turkey vs Croatia

Great games in the past, entertaining qualifying campaigns and talent overflowing in both teams. This is by far the most anticipated game of the EURO 2012 qualification play-offs. These two teams last met in the quarter finals of EURO 2008 with Turkey moving to the semi-finals on penalties. 2 out of the 3 players, Modric and Rakitic, who missed their penalties for Croatia will start on Friday. The Turks have 2 out of the 3 players, Arda Turan and Hamit Altintop, who scored for them in 2008. These teams also met in the group stage of EURO 1996 where Croatia picked up a 1-0 win.

Turkey struggled throughout their qualifying campaign and just managed to edge out Belgium to nip a spot in the play-offs. Lucky wins over Kazakhstan and Belgium were crucial in securing this spot and Turkey will want to make full use of it. Their home form in the qualifying campaign was a bright spot in their qualifying campaign and they will have to build an impenetrable wall to stop the Croats.

Croatia were expected to qualify with ease from Group F but came across a Grecian hurdle along the way. A 90th minute Kobiashvili goal for Georgia on the 26th of March is a prime cause for Croatia having to fight so hard for a spot in EURO 2012. Croatia picked up 3 wins out of 5 away games in their qualifying campaign and will have to get a few away goals at least to have any hopes of qualifying.

Turkey will be heavily reliant on their midfield. The creativity of Arda Turan and Hamit Altintop will be imperative in destroying Crotia's defence. Selcuk Inan may not be a big name in the Turkish squad but his ability to play killer passes from deep in midfield will help the Turks a great deal. The absence of Nuri Sahin and also that of a clinical striker could come to haunt the Turks.

Croatia will be without Tottenham midfielder Niko Kranjcar, who was their top scorer in the qualifying campaign. This Croatian midfield is oozing with talent with the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Dario Srna looking to destroy the Turkish back four. We might also see Ivan Perisic get his 7th cap and i'd be delighted to see the Dortmund man pick up his first international goal.

Players to watch out for : Selcuk Inan(Turkey) ; Luka Modric(Croatia)

My prediction : Turkey 1-1 Croatia

Here are the highlights from the previous thrilling encounter between Turkey and Croatia.

1 comment:

  1. I beg to differ with Bosnia 1-3 Portugal, i say a draw is at hand! and anyway hats off to u balla! killer write! hope to see more! cheers mate