The road to Euro 2020 has shifted into high gear as countries across the continent are already a number of games into their respective qualifying campaigns.
Some have gotten off to flying starts, while others have failed to even get going. Tuesday afternoon will see yet another crucial contest in Group J, as group leaders, Italy will host Bosnia and Herzegovina, who find themselves in fourth after a dreadful start to this cycle.
There will be plenty of talent on show, and there’s reason to believe this upcoming contest will be one full of drama and excitement.
Italy had a statement win on Saturday afternoon as they blew out Greece 3-0, with all three goals coming in the first half.
Nicolo Barella opened the scoring for the Italians, as he was picked out for a tap in at the back post following a stellar low cross from Andrea Belotti.
They would double their advantage at the half-hour mark through Lorenzo Insigne, as the diminutive winger dribbled past a few hapless Greek defenders before curling a shot into the back of the net.
The lead would be three only three minutes later, as Leonardo Bonnuci rose highest to head home from a corner whipped in by Emerson. Italy would go on to kill the contest off with their defence and cemented themselves as the cream of the crop in Group J with the dominant victory.
It could not have been more of a different story for Bosnia this past weekend, as they were comfortably beaten away to Finland.
It was a tense first half, as both sides were just trying to feel each other out early on.
However, it was all Finland in the second, as Bosnia simply failed to come out of the locker room with any belief or energy.
The breakthrough would come through Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki, who dribbled straight through the heart of the Bosnia backline before curling a shot into the bottom corner to give the home side a deserved lead.
It would be Pukki who made it two for Finland to put the game to bed, as he was the one to finish off a devastating counter-attacking move.
For Bosnia, it was a disastrous performance and result that put them in a deep hole in their qualifying campaign, and now the pressure is on them to start digging out of it against Italy.
Last time out
The two nations have remarkably only faced off once before, and that lone matchup came all the way back in 1996 in a friendly.
It might have been just a few years after Bosnia became an independent nation, but they would be the ones to pick up a surprise win on the day.
Italy: Sirigu, Florenzi, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson, Barella, Jorginho, Verratti, Kean, Belotti, Insigne.
Bosnia: Sehic, Todorovic, Sunjic, Zukanovic, Civic, Saric, Pjanic, Besic, Visca, Dzeko, Duljevic.
What to watch for
What kind of Bosnia team will show up?
The most frustrating thing about this Bosnia team is that they are packed with talent but just cannot find any consistency.
The only consistent thing about Bosnia at the moment is that they are incredibly inconsistent. It unclear which kind of team will take the pitch on any given day, which makes it difficult to gauge expectations.
Bosnia was close to dominant during the recent Nations League, going unbeaten and finishing on top of their group ahead of Austria and Northern Ireland.
They were a world class side in the first half of their recent game against Greece as well, running rings around their opponents while scoring twice and creating even more chances.
However, things changed in the second, as the Bosnia team of old came out to play instead. Their organization went out the window, as they gave up two goals themselves and really should’ve given up another. That same woeful Bosnia team came out against Finland, and were deservedly beaten.
So, in terms of Tuesday, it’s hard to know just how Bosnia will respond. Will they rise to the occasion, or bottle it under the pressure put on them? Only time will tell.
Player to watch out for
Miralem Pjanic who returns to his clubs home, but he will come into the game as an enemy instead of an ally.
A star for Juventus this past season, Pjanic will take the field at the Allianz Stadium in Turin once again.
However, instead of the famous black and white stripes of Juve, Pjanic will be wearing the blue and gold of Bosnia out on the pitch.