Greece hoping to frustrate Bosnia again
On Tuesday, Greece will aim to gain potentially vital points against Bosnia and Herzegovina on the road in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying, with previous history predicting a nervy duel in Zenica.
In the past, these two nations have met on eight occasions in competitive matches, with Greece tallying four victories, three draws and one defeat. During the ultimately unsuccessful 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, the Greeks manage to frustrate Bosnia in their two matches, salvaging a dramatic, last-gasp 1:1 draw in Piraeus and then keeping the opponents at bay in a gritty 0:0 tie away from home. Tuesday’s match is a pivotal one, with the two teams expected to challenge for the runners-up spot in Group J behind favourites Italy.
Let’s take a closer look at the previous matches between Greece and Bosnia:
September 1, 1996. Greece - Bosnia - 3:0, 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifier
In Kalamata, Greece secured an emphatic victory against the Bosnians, as Marinos Ouzounidis (former Panathinaikos and AEK head coach), Stratos Apostolakis and Demis Nikolaidis all hit the target to register the three points. The Bosnians rarely threatened as the Ethniki Omada had no problem in keeping them off the scoreboard.
April 2, 1997. Bosnia - Greece - 0:1, 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifier
This time, the Greeks were given more of a test, but it didn’t prevent the players from gaining a second victory over these opponents as substitute Kostas Frantzeskos scored an intelligent free-kick with only 16 minutes remaining.
October 11, 2006. Bosnia - Greece - 0:4, UEFA Euro 2008 qualifier
In the ninth minute, Angelos Charisteas began the rout with a goal from the penalty spot, but the Bosnians pressed throughout and made life nervy for Greece. Nevertheless, Christos Papazoglou made the victory safe with eight minutes left on the clock, before Georgios Samaras and Kostas Katsouranis added gloss to the scoreline with further goals in the final moments. A real statement of intentions.
October 13, 2007. Greece - Bosnia - 3:2, UEFA Euro 2008 qualifier
The score was a lot closer in Athens. Early on, Angelos Charisteas bundled the ball over the line to give Greece the lead, but a fantastic Bosnian free-kick got the visitors back on level terms in the second half. However, the Greeks weren’t affected by that setback, as Theofanis Gekas and Nikos Lyberopoulos netted twice in the space of 15 minutes. Vedad Ibisevic’s late goal for Bosnia was a mere consolation.
October 12, 2012. Greece - Bosnia - 0:0, 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier
This turned out to be a thoroughly frustrating night at the Karaiskakis Stadium. In the fourth minute, Gekas was sure to score at point blank range, but after receiving a pass from Samaras, he contrived to hit the post with the goal at his mercy. Giannis Maniatis then pulled off a superb goal line clearance at the other end. Vasilis Torosidis smacked the crossbar with the half coming to an end, and in the second, Dimitris Salpingidis couldn’t score when clean through.
March 22, 2013. Bosnia - Greece - 3:1, 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier
Bosnia tallied their maiden victory against Greece with a dominant performance at home. On the half-hour mark, Edin Dzeko cleverly glanced a free-kick into the right corner, and Ibisevic then tapped the ball in for the second after Orestis Karnezis had initially saved a penalty. Dzeko increased the Bosnian lead to three in the 53rd minute, but Gekas did at least score a consolation for Greece in stoppage time.
November 13, 2016. Greece - Bosnia - 1:1, 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier
A game which will always be remembered for Georgios Tzavellas’ late heroics. In a tense, physical encounter, Bosnia looked to be heading to a famous win in Piraeus, with Miralem Pjanic’s free-kick having been inadvertently deflected in by Ethniki goalkeeper Karnezis. Greece struggled to create many clear opportunities, but in the 95th minute, Tzavellas slammed in a stunning effort to rescue a point. Dzeko and Kyriakos Papadopoulos had previously been sent off after a brawl.
June 9, 2017. Bosnia - Greece - 0:0, 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier
Yet another fiery, highly charged battle, which ended with Greece once again achieving a positive result against the Bosnians. Requiring a victory to overtake Greece in second place, Bosnia pressed hard and forced Karnezis into a number of difficult saves, but the Ethniki stood tall to the challenge with a practically faultless defensive display. Greece could have even won it, but on the counterattack, Petros Mantalos blazed off target when it seemed easier to score. Giannis Gianniotas lost a tooth in a violent fight after the game’s conclusion.
The two countries also played to a 0:0 friendly draw on August 10, 2011.