Bosnia and Herzegovina prepare to make debut - FIFA WORLD CUP 2014

Football is more than just a game for Bosnians, it's a getaway from the country's political instability and conflicted past. Also, the sport has been crucial in the country's rebuilding process after the Bosnian War (1992-1995) devastated the country. For the past 16 years, the Bosnian Dragons have been trying to qualify for their first major tournament and they finally did it last October after coming close in 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2012. The 1-0 win at Lithuania guaranteed that Bosnia and Herzegovina would make its first ever appearance at the World Cup, making them the only debutants for the upcoming tournament.

Manager Safet Susic released his 24 man provisional squad then added 6 additional players later on:

Goalkeepers: Asmir Begovic (Stoke City), Asmir Avdukic (Borac Banja Luka), Jasmin Fejzic (VFR Aalen), Dejan Bandovic (FK Sarajevo)

There is no question regarding who will be the starting goalkeeper for Safet Susic: Asmir Begovic. The Stoke City shot-stopper has experienced great success in the Premier League over the past few years with the Bosnian being one of the highest rated keepers in the league while attracting interest from top clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool over the past transfer windows. Should Begovic pick up some sort of injury, it is likely that Asmir Avdukic will be his replacement as he has been called up by manager Safet Susic for quite some time now. However, Jasmin Fejzic has made a name for himself in the 2. Bundesliga with Aalen, who had the 6th best defense this past season, so he could pose a challenge to Avdukic should Begovic pick up an injury.

Defenders: Emir Spahic (Bayer Leverkusen), Toni Sunjic (Zorya Lugansk), Sead Kolasinac (Schalke), Ognjen Vranjes (Elazigspor), Ervin Zukanovic (Gent), Ermin Bicakcic (Eintracht Braunschweig), Muhamed Besic (Ferencvaros)

Captain Emir Spahic will lead the line for Bosnia and Herzegovina this summer and his partner will likely be either Sead Kolasinac or Ermin Bicakcic. The two Bundesliga defenders have made a name for themselves this past season with Bicakcic named in the Bundesliga team of the season and joining Hoffenheim recently. Sead Kolasinac is a highly-rated youngster and has featured quite often for Schalke this season. However, against Argentina, it seems that youngster Muhamed Besic will start with Safet Susic saying "[Besic] is the only one who can defend against Messi." Besic can play as a centre back or defensive midfielder, so we'll have to wait and see how Susic will utilize him next month. Mensur Mujdza will likely play at right-back as he continues to recover from injury, which kept him out for most of the season. Mujdza can play as a right winger, but has featured as right-back for the national side. During his injury, Avdija Vrsaljevic played in his place and could do the same depending on Mujdza's race to regain fitness. Sejad Salihovic, like Mujdza, can play as a winger, but he has often played as left-back for Bosnia. However, Safet Susic said he wanted to use him in a more offensive role, meaning that it is likely he will play as a left winger or left wing back. Sead Kolasinac and Ermin Bicakcic can both play left-back as well, so it will come down to Safet Susic once again.

Midfielders: Miralem Pjanic (Roma), Izet Hajrovic (Galatasaray), Mensur Mujdza (Freiburg), Haris Medunjanin (Gaziantepspor), Senad Lulic (Lazio), Anel Hadzic (Sturm), Tino Sušić (Hajduk), Sejad Salihovic (Hoffenheim), Zvjezdan Misimovic (Guizhour Renhe), Senijad Ibricic (Erciyesspor), Avdija Vrsaljevic (Hajduk), Srdjan Stanic (FK Zeljeznicar), Adnan Zahirovic (Bochum), Miroslav Stevanovic (Deportivo Alaves), Zoran Kvrzic (HNK Rijeka)

During the qualifiers, Bosnia played a 4-4-2 (that could transition to a 3-5-2), which experienced great success with the team only conceding 6 goals and scoring 30. However for the World Cup, we could see Safet Susic transition to a more defensive 4-5-1 to protect what has been a shaky defense in friendly matches. Haris Medunjanin and Adnan Zahirovic have been solid defensive midfielders for the national team making it likely that they will feature next month, either as a pair or alternating with one another. Zvjezdan Misimovic is the team's main playmaker, meaning that he is guaranteed a spot in the starting XI. There was recent question and concern over his fitness, but the midfielder has made a solid push to regain match fitness again. Miralem Pjanic was a star for AS Roma this past season, becoming one of the best players in Serie A, and attracting interest from many top clubs such as Barcelona, PSG and Manchester United. For the national team, he sits deeper and plays as a deep-lying playmaker while occasionally venturing forward to contribute to the attack. Senad Lulic, another Serie A player, has also experienced great success in Rome, except he plays for Lazio. The left-winger had another solid season in Italy and is also expected to start in the World Cup. Lulic is a very hard worker and his crossing ability will be crucial, especially with Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic's heading abilities. On the right hand side, it is likely to be Izet Hajrovic starting, with the Galatasaray winger impressing recently in a friendly with the U21 team. Hajrovic is famous for his stunning strike vs Slovakia in the qualifiers, which won Bosnia the match 2-1 and helped the Dragons clinch a spot in Brazil. He might face competition from Miroslav Stevanovic depending on how Stevanovic does in the upcoming friendlies in the US before Susic makes his official decision on who goes to Brazil and who doesn't.

Attackers: Vedad Ibisevic (VfB Stuttgart), Edin Dzeko (Manchester City), Edin Visca (Istanbul BB), Ermin Zec (Genclerbiligi)

Edin Dzeko is Bosnia's most popular player by far, with him putting on an impressive display recently for Manchester City, scoring 10 goals in their last 10 matches helping them win the Premier League over Liverpool and Chelsea. Dzeko is Bosnia's all-time goal scorer and will be the focal point of the attack during the World Cup. During the qualifiers, he was teamed up with Vedad Ibisevic, who also experienced success in attack. Ibisevic has been one of the Bundesliga's better strikers since 2008, playing for Hoffenheim and Stuttgart. Ibisevic has scored 20 goals for the national team, compared to Dzeko's 33. The two could be played as a pair again in an offensive formation, but it will come down to Safet Susic's decision on whether to play a 4-4-2, 3-5-2, or 4-5-1.
4-5-1: (which could be played)
What Bosnia's 4-4-2 looks like in action: