After being relegated to League B of the UEFA Nations League, Bosnia-Herzegovina will be welcoming Italy to Sarajevo on Wednesday night for the final game of the group. This is, therefore, a Nations League clash between the top and bottom sides in League A Group 1.
The Azzurri needs to win to reach the finals. In case they draw, the Netherlands, who played the inaugural finals against Portugal will progress ahead of them. But if they fail to beat Poland, the Azurris needs only a draw to advance.
A win at home will be historic for Bosnia, who missed out qualification for the Euros 2020 tournament, after holding the Azurris to a 1-1 draw in the first leg. This, unfortunately, cannot help them avoid the trapdoor to League B.
Roberto Mancini remains in quarantine after a positive COVID-19 result. The onus lies with his assistant Alberigo Evani, who must continue to guide a slimmed-down squad in the Bosnian capital.
In Mancini’s absence, Evani has been in charge of a 4-0 friendly win against Estonia, fielding at best a ‘B’ team – and a 2-0 Nations League win over Poland. The victory took the Azzurri top of a challenging group. They are leading the Netherlands with just a point in the group with 9 points.
Evani, a former Milan and Sampdoria player, will be hoping to continue from where he starts by guiding Italy to the next round. The safest way to achieve this is to record a win.
Itlay has demonstrated impressive solidity throughout the campaign, conceding just two goals in five matches despite Mancini’s game plan is more attack-oriented.
They were able to record an excellent result despite the absence of first-choice defenders and Serie A’s last season highest goal scorer Ciro Immobile who is currently recovering from COVID-19.
Holding Robert Lewandowski at bay and not even concede a single shot on target at Sassuolo’s Mapei Stadium shows their solidity.
Bosnia’s confidence has been affected after losing the Euro 2020 playoff to Northern Ireland on penalties, having opened their Nations League campaign with an impressive 1-1 draw away in Italy.
They will be missing the national hero, Roma striker Edin Dzeko, who is still battling the COVID-19 bug.
Armin Hodzic is expected to deputise for Dzeko against but Eupen striker Smail Prevljak could start following his impressive showing off the bench last time out that saw him scoring the consolation goal against the Netherlands.
Anel Ahmedhodzic is expected to be part of the defensive unit after suspension while Dusan Bajevic could field Edin Visca and Amer Gojak in the wide roles, while Barcelona’s Miralem Pjanic and AC Milan man Rade Krunic could play in the centre of the middle in a flexible 4-1-4-1 formation.
Italy will be playing without Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Alessio Romagnoli and Angelo Ogbonna due to injury.
Danilo D’Ambrosio could start in place of Bastoni while Vincenzo Grifo and Moise Kean have returned to their respective clubs due to minor injuries. This will therefore give Torino striker, Andrea Belotti the starting shirt with support from either Lorenzo Insigne, Stephan El Shaarawy or Federico Bernardeschi.