There are just four places remaining at next summer’s European Championships in France and this weekend sees the eight sides that can claim these places do battle around the continent. The biggest set of ties, with the first leg playing in Zenica this Friday evening and Dublin on Monday, is the clash between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ireland as both sides finished third in their groups. The Bosnians are the slight favourites to book their place in France this weekend across the 180 minutes of football, but with the Irish having shown that they can upset the odds – with their four points from two matches against world champions Germany in the group stages a stark reminder of this – how will the tie play out?
We preview the first leg of this contest with online sportsbook Betfair.com to provide our top Bosnia v Ireland tip in our Euro 2016 Tips.
To qualify for Euro 2016:
Bosnia-Herzegovina – 1.80
Republic of Ireland – 2.00
Match Odds for the First Leg:
Bosnia to win – 1.95
Draw – 3.30
Ireland to win – 4.60
The hosts of this first leg clash come into the game with a very healthy squad as only Muhamed Besic, the defensive midfielder for English Premier League side Everton, out for this game. The 23 year old has played eight of the ten matches that saw Bosnia finish behind Wales and Belgium in Group B but he should be back for the second leg in Dublin on Monday night. The worst news for the visitors to the Stadion Bilino Polje is that key players Asmir Begovic, the Chelsea goalkeeper, and Roma duo of Miralem Pjanic and Edin Dzeko in midfield and up front are all fit and ready to go. Former Man City striker Dzeko will be the biggest worry as he has bagged seven in seven during this campaign.
While things look good player wise for the home side this Friday night the Irish team are in the middle of an injury crisis. Goalkeepers Keiren Westwood, Rob Elliot and Shay Given are all out as is goal scorer in the win over Germany in Dublin Shane Long as well as defenders Paul McShane and David Meyler as well as striker David McGoldrick. On top of this Sunderland’s John O’Shea and Jon Walters from Stoke City are both suspended to leave them short on attacking players.
The form book:
Again, the home side come into this first leg of this play off contest better placed as they triumphed in five of their final six Group B games to see them bounce back to finish third after losing two and drawing two of their opening four clashes. These five victories saw them score 14 goals and their home form saw them defeat Israel, Andorra and Wales in their final three home matches after losing 2-1 to Cyprus and drawing 1-1 with Belgium. Edin Dzeko scored three goals in four matches in front of the Bosnian faithful during the campaign after failing to score against the Cypriots and not playing in the 2-0 defeat of Wales to make him the top scorer for Bosnia during this campaign.
Ireland have won three and drawn two of their last six Euro 2016 qualification games before this Friday night clash in Zenic and the last of those matches saw them fall just short against Poland in a match that would have seen them qualify automatically had they taken all three points. That defeat was away from home and Ireland struggled to win on their travels in Group D as they defeated only the bottom two sides in Georgia and Gibraltar but they did manage a draw in Germany and only failed to score against Scotland in their five away games.
With the Irish struggling for wins away from the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, we feel that the Betfair odds on making the home side at the Stadion Bilino Polje the odds on favourites are correct. However, we do feel that there is better value than backing Bosnia to win this first leg as Edin Dzeko is seemingly back to his best after some injury issues recently after scoring in the Rome Derby for Roma recently as they defeated Lazio and our pick from this first leg is that he’ll score at least one goal in this match.
Our top Bosnia v Ireland tip is back Edin Dzeko to score anytime @ 2.62 in the Betfair Sportsbook!