Bosnia and Herzegovina faced Finland, the surprise team in their qualifying group for UEFA EURO 2020 at home on Saturday night.
The team still coached by Robert Prosinečki (who had resigned from his post last month, before taking back the resignation days later) needed a victory, in order to keep their direct qualification hopes alive.
They accomplished that in style, defeating their visitors by a 4-1 margin. Finland had conceded four goals in all of their previous qualifying matches combined. The scorers were Izet Hajrović, twice Miralem Pjanić, as well as once Armin Hodžić, before Joel Pohjanpalo got the Scandinavians on the board.
The dominance by the Bosnian Dragons was quite overwhelming. It may sound like a cliché, but had they played their previous qualifying games with this intensity, their place at EURO 2020 would not be in doubt.
Finland and Bayer Leverkusen keeper Lukas Hradecky kept his side in the game numerous times, despite the fact that he was beaten four times.
It was clear from start to finish, that Bosnia wanted to set the record straight after a number of bad results, both last month and going back to June.
This is only speculation of course, but maybe those less than ideal scores and the subsequent drama about the coach’s resignation brought the team closer together. Maybe the injury of Edin Džeko just before the international break, and that of Edin Višća minutes into this encounter freed the team a bit.
Fans and experts alike have for years accused the Bosnian national team of overreliance on especially Džeko. I am not saying that I would not rather have him in the team, but without him the team is clearly less predictable.
Bosnia takes on Greece away on Tuesday, and as Prosinečki pointed out, the great win against Finland will have been worthless, if it is not followed up by a victory over Greece.