In World Cup 2010 qualifying, Edin Dzeko proved his standing as one of the greatest strikers in the world with a nine-goal performance. Unfortunately for him and his country, it wasn't enough to get Bosnia-Herzegovina into the finals. Their defense was average at best throughout qualifying, requiring them to go through the playoff round. They met Portugal there and Dzeko was unable to work his magic against Portuguese team that had been surprisingly defensive throughout qualifying. Bruno Alves and Raul Meireles each scored a goal over the two legs, sending Portugal to the World Cup.
On the final matchday, both Portugal and Bosnia had chances to avoid a repeat encounter and qualify for Euro 2012 outright. In Denmark, Portugal manager Paulo Bento was completely tactically out-classed by Morten Olsen as Portugal fell 2-1. At the Stade de France, Dzeko gave Bosnia an early lead, but a Samir Nasri penalty gave France an equalizer in a 1-1 draw that sent Les Bleus through to the finals. And so, Bosnia and Portugal meet again.
Bosnia manager Safet Susic has shown a willingness to switch between single striker and two striker formations based on the quality of opposition and his available personnel, while it would be surprising if Portugal played anything other than a 4-3-3 with Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani on either side of a central striker, most likely Helder Postiga. Bento has changed up his defense, re-calling Real Madrid star Pepe and adding uncapped Köln defender Henrique Sereno to his team.
How Bosnia-Herzegovina sets up could be telling and dictate how the match will go in the early going. If Vedad Ibesevic gets a start up top alongside Dzeko, it's unlikely that Susic is going with a conservative, Tony Pulis-style 4-4-2. If they're both on the field, he's going for the jugular. His 4-2-3-1 setup usually signifies a more balanced setup, while he's also not opposed to shutting things down with a 4-1-4-1.
If Portugal score early, they can keep the ball all day long and win a 1-0 game with two-thirds of the possession. But if they can't find a breakthrough or if Bosnia score first, Bento will have to do a better job of making sure his team stay focused (or quickly executing a coherent Plan B) than he has in the past. Against Denmark on the last match day, Portugal looked incredibly disorganized after Denmark scored their opener. They continued to look disorganized even after Bento got to talk to them at halftime, leading to them getting undone on the counter for the second goal. If Bosnia score early, they'll probably start putting everyone but Dzeko behind the ball while looking to break out on the counter. Previous Portugal performances suggest that this would be a successful tactic.
Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Portugal kicks off at 2:00 pm ET, 7:00 pm GMT on Friday. We'll have live coverage of this and every Euro 2012 qualifying playoff match in our Euro 2012 Qualifying Playoffs StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, visit SB Nation Soccer.