At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Match of the Day: Welcome to the Party!

I'm writing most of this blog post Saturday night for tomorrow, but I instinctively know which of Sunday's games I'd select for Match of the Day. Switzerland-Ecuador presents some interesting angles, and I'd like to see if France's game is on for their clash with Honduras. Yet the other game Sunday is the winner for Match of the Day by a longshot.

Simply because it involves a newcomer.

Welcome to the party, Bosnia & Herzegovnia!

Hereafter known simply as Bosnia, the 21st-ranked team in the world is headed into their group play against Argentina, Nigeria, and Iran with a lot of confidence. That is not to say Bosnia is favored. They have an uphill climb against the Argentines on Sunday, having played them twice before and lost by scores of 5-0 and 2-0 (the latter game was played here in St. Louis at Busch Stadium).

Not to mention Bosnia will have to find a way to slow down Lionel Messi, the Argentine scoring machine. Edin Dzeko will attempt to give the Bosnians a scoring boost as he brings his considerable playing talent Manchester City fans are used to seeing from him, although Ezequiel Garay will be lying in wait to snipe at Dzeko's heels. Yet Sejad Salihovic is a more than capable midfielder and field general for Bosnia, and he possesses one of the deadliest penalty-kick shots in the world.

Talent is on Argentina's side, and La Albiceleste should be the better team on the field. But don't forget what the Bosnians have survived emotionally and physically over the past quarter-century, birthed out of a bloody ethnic conflict thrust upon them by Serbia. These guys can play with emotion, and their fans cheer them with passion, especially the Bosnians here in St. Louis, the largest population outside of Bosnia. And don't forget, with the Cup being played in Brazil, Argentina can count on Brazilian fans rooting for Bosnia and against them. 

Many intangibles have to line up for Bosnia to squeak out with a win or tie, and I don't think those dominoes are quite there. But you never know. We've had other surprises so far when I've tried to pick the Match of the Day.

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