Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Nations League clash between Finland and Bosnia-Herzegovina, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The two nations are separated by just two places in the FIFA world rankings, with Finland positioned in 57th while Bosnia are ranked 59th.
After making their major tournament debut at Euro 2020 last summer, Finland narrowly missed out on qualification for the 2022 World Cup as they finished third in their group behind Ukraine and France.
Before their Euro 2020 campaign, Finland finished second in League B Group 4 of the 2020-21 Nations League. Four wins out of six was not enough for Markku Kanerva‘s men to leapfrog group winners Wales, who finished four points clear at the top.
The Eagle-owls will now face Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and Romania in this year’s competition and they will fancy their chances of securing promotion from what could prove to be a very open group.
Finland head into Saturday’s contest having won only three of their last 11 internationals, although their last victory was in fact against Bosnia, winning 3-1 away from home in a World Cup qualifier in November last year.
Their home record, however, will be a slight cause for concern for Kanerva as they have only won one of their last 10 matches on home soil across all competitions, failing to score on six occasions.
Like Finland, Bosnia & Herzegovina also failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, finishing four points behind the Eagle-owls in the same group and only winning one of their eight fixtures.
Bosnia also endured a disappointing 2020-21 Nations League campaign, albeit against difficult opponents, as they finished behind Italy, the Netherlands and Poland with just two points from six fixtures, and were subsequently relegated from League A Group 1.
The Golden Lilies will now be hoping for greater success in League B Group 3 as they bid to secure promotion to the top tier at the first attempt, although their recent away form suggests that they may find it challenging to begin with a victory this weekend.
Bosnia have only won two of their last 17 international away matches, beating both Kazakhstan and Lithuania who are ranked outside the world’s top 100.
Ivaylo Petev‘s men ended a four-game losing run with a slender 1-0 home win against Luxembourg in their last international in March, which saw veteran striker Edin Dzeko come off the bench to score an 86th-minute winner. The 36-year-old now has 61 international goals to his name, at least 33 more than any other player in the nation’s history.
Finland Nations League form:
Finland form (all competitions):
Bosnia-Herzegovina Nations League form:
Bosnia-Herzegovina form (all competitions):
Finland boss Kanerva has been switching between a 5-3-2 and a 4-4-2 formation in recent internationals, but the former system could be used on Saturday considering the success they had with it in their last meeting against Bosnia.
Amer Gojak and Muhamed Besic could be handed starts in centre-midfield alongside experienced playmaker Miralem Pjanic, while Dzeko is set to lead the line, with Ermedin Demirovic and Smail Prevljak to provide cover on the substitutes’ bench.
Finland possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; Alho, L. Vaisanen, S. Vaisanen, O’Shaughnessy, Uronen; Lod, Kamara, Schuller; Pohjanpalo, Pukki
Bosnia-Herzegovina possible starting lineup:
Sehic; Ahmedhodzic, Sanicanin, Civic, Kolasinac; Besic, Pjanic, Gojak; Krunic, Stevanovic; Dzeko
We say: Finland 1-1 Bosnia-Herzegovina
Both Finland and Bosnia will be keen to make a strong start to their Nations League campaign and they will fancy their chances of success on Saturday.
Finland managed to come out on top the last time these two nations met, but we can see Bosnia claiming a point this time around in a closely-fought contest.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.