A strange match to watch. Iran could potentially usurp Nigeria in second place behind Argentina if they could beat Bosnia & Herzegovina, but their gameplan revolves entirely around their defensive solidity. With the Bosnians only having pride to play for, the tables had turned. Iran couldn’t sit back and frustrate them if they wanted to escape the group – they had to be more proactive.
Safet Susic changed to something resembling a 4-4-2 diamond, giving Vedad Ibisevic his first start of the tournament next to Edin Dzeko, while Carlos Queiroz kept the same line-up that had given Argentina a scare.
Despite the circumstances, Iran didn’t really adapt their strategy from the game against Argentina. They sat back deep in their own half and let Bosnia & Herzegovina have the ball, breaking quickly when they won it back. With the result of little consequence to the Bosnians, they were relaxed in possession and content to patiently carve out chances. The midfield diamond made it easy for them to keep the ball and the full-backs getting forward stretched play well.
The opening goal came from a counter-attack from a counter-attack. Iran had committed men forward trying to catch out the Bosnians, which left them light at the back when they lost the ball and Dzeko was able to place a perfect finish past Alireza Haghighi.
Iran managed to gain a footing in the game by changing to a 4-4-1-1, Ashkan Dejagah now playing off Reza Ghoochannejhad, and half-heartedly pressing the Bosnians, but neither side mustered many real chances until Bosnia & Herzegovina all but confirmed their victory with a goal from a nice passing move, arising when Jalal Hosseini gave the ball away on the edge of his area.
Both teams sleepwalked through the rest of the game. Ghoochannejhad made Iran the final of all 32 teams to score when Bosnia & Herzegovina repeated failed to properly clear a set-piece, but Avdija Vrsajevic killed any hopes of a comeback with a quick breakaway within a minute of the restart.
It’s probably for the best Iran didn’t get any further when most of the other teams in the competition have been much more entertaining, while Bosnia & Herzegovina had already met their fate prior to this match.