Wales and Bosnia in Euro 2016 qualifier for battle of Dragons
Wales and Bosnia and Herzegovina have played each other at senior international level just twice before, with the Eastern Europeans coming away unbeaten on both occasions. The away side are 5/4 favourites for a win, and 11/5 to take a point on their travels.
Hosts Wales, meanwhile, are also priced at 11/5 for victory, and are the outsiders with Coral probably due to fact that star midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen are out of the squad due to injury.
Chris Coleman still has main man Gareth Bale to call upon, and will hope the Real Madrid wing wizard can carry the team again, after almost single-handedly leading the Dragons to victory against minnows Andorra last time out.
Wales could only manage a 2-1 victory on the tiny nation’s 3G pitch following Bale’s headed equaliser and then superb free-kick winner late on. The 25-year-old has been on form for club as well this term, having netted four times and made three assists in La Liga from seven games so far. He is a 5/4 chance to score anytime here and 5/1 to get the last goal again.
There is one problem for Bale, though, in that he faces his arch-nemesis in terms of goalkeeping, in the form of Stoke City’s star stopper Asmir Begovic. The 27-year-old has managed to never let the usually prolific Welshman score past him in six attempts for club and country, and, assuming he plays in net, he is 13/8 to keep a clean sheet, and 13/5 to guide his side to a win to nil. Bale, however, has odds of 2/1 score anytime during the match.
The last time these two nations played was a friendly in 2012 on Welsh home turf, with the Bosnians, also nicknamed the Dragons, winning 2-0. Current Stuttgart striker Vedad Ibisevic netted the opener that day, and the attacker, who also scored against Argentina at the recent World Cup, is 5/4 in the anytime market and 5/1 to strike first once more.
Ibisevic’s higher-profile partner in crime Edin Dzeko, though, will be the one to watch out for. The Manchester City front man is Bosnia’s top scorer in history, with 37 from 67 caps, and is 6/5 to net anytime, and 6/1 for two or more.
Wales (6/4 to qualify) currently sit top after one game in Group B, that also includes Belgium and Israel, while Bosnia (4/1 to top the pool) lost at home to unfancied Cyprus last time out.
Along with Ramsey and Allen, Coleman will be without James Collins, Paul Dummett and Lee Evans, while Goran Zakaric sits out for the visitors. Dzeko’s cousin and former national captain, Emir Spahic, meanwhile, is a doubt.
Hull City centre back and new Wales international James Chester spoke ahead of the game: “Joe and Aaron will be a loss because they’re playing for two of the biggest teams in Europe, but we’ve got a squad where most of the lads are playing their football at the top level, so I think we can cope although they will be missed.
“The game against Andorra was tricky, but the win was the most important thing going into these two games. It’s a big opportunity for us after picking up three points in the first game.
“We know we’ve got a great chance of qualifying for a major tournament, and to do that we’ve got to take points from these games. It’s something the country’s not done for a very long time, so we can make history.”