Bosnia and Herzegovina sit atop Group G, with 13 points from 5 matches played. Along with long-standing powerhouses of international football -- Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain -- Bosnia are undefeated in their group, their only draw coming against Greece. Even with that scoreless draw, the side has scored an impressive 18 goals.
In contrast, Bosnia's opponents on Friday evening, Latvia, sit second from bottom, having won just once (against bottom-dwelling Liechtenstein) and drawn just once (also against Liechtenstein). With five left to play, Latvia aren't out of the race just yet, but they're likely not holding out any hopes of chilling on the beach in Rio.
The last time the two met, back in September, Bosnia came away with a 4-1 win. Latvia actually opened the scoring with a goal from Kaspars Gorkss, but BiH stalwart Zvjezdan Misimović bagged a brace around a goal from Miralem Pjanic, while Edin Dzeko added the fourth in the dying minutes of the match. The last round of qualifiers was when Latvia came back to hold Liechtenstein to a draw, while Bosnia beat Greece 3-1, the Greek goal a consolation at the very end of the game.
While it's too early to give Bosnia a free pass to Brazil, a win in Riga just might prompt the Dragons to start packing for their first-ever World Cup -- especially if Greece can't grab all three against Lithuania. There are no new injuries to the squad called up for the qualifier, and supporters will be thrilled to know that Pjanic is perfectly healthy. It's his work in midfield that creates opportunities for his side and, despite Bosnia's abilities to win without him, they're a much stronger force with his inclusion.
As for Latvia, coach Aleksandrs Starkovs has said they'll be relying on young striker Valērijs Šabala, who scored twice in the friendly against Turkey, which ultimately ended in a 3-3 draw. The 18-year-old has yet to play a qualifier, however, so expecting great things against the group's top side may prove too much weight for his young shoulders.
Match Date / Time: Friday, June 7 at 6:30 p.m. local / 12:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Skonto Stadions, Riga, Latvia
TV: ESPN 3, ESPN Deportes