Bosnian Bundesliga Colony – Hinrunde Round-Up

Currently. there are seven Bosnian internationals plying their trades for clubs in the German top flight, and it’s been a mixed campaign so far for them.

Let us look back at how they each fared.

Unarguably, the Bosnian who enjoyed the first half of the season the most has been long-serving national team captain Emir Spahic who is still going strong despite his age (34) and has cemented himself once more as a key defensive player for Champions League participants Bayer Leverkusen, with standout displays against the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Hoffenheim, and Bayern Munich sticking out as the highs of his season up to now. Having been expected to be replaced in the starting lineup upon Roger Schmidt’s arrival in the summer, Spahic didn’t take long to prove to him that he was still up to the task despite coming off a disappointing World Cup campaign and international retirement (which was later reversed), establishing himself as a mainstay in the league’s fifth-best defense, leading Bayer to their third place Hinrunde finish, leaving the club poised to qualify for the Champions League for the third year running.

Another player having a good season is Ermin Bicakcic who’s established himself as a starter at the heart of Hoffenheim’s defense following his summer move from last year’s relegated outfit Eintracht Braunschweig. Early in the campaign, Bicakcic struggled with injury problems that kept him out of the side for weeks. In the last few months, though, he has fully recovered and found his way into the starting lineup, posting solid performances and even finding himself ranked by some as one of the higher-ranked defenders in the league. Just 24 years old and with a spot tied down in the team, it seems like Bicakcic’s best days are ahead of him for both club and country. Hoffenheim currently sit seventh in the league, just a point off a Champions League place.

Sejad Salihovic has had a season of mixed fortunes, with a series of injury problems just like his teammate Bicakcic hampering his campaign. Unlike his compatriot, Salihovic has found it much harder to become a regular in the Hoffenheim lineup, making just two starts to date, including the 2014 finale, an 0-5 drubbing of Hertha Berlin in which Salihovic scored twice from the penalty spot. Salihovic’s lack of form and consistency has seen him fall down the pecking order for both club and country, but perhaps the game against Hertha could be used as a catalyst to re-establish himself as a key figure for Hoffenheim and the Bosnian national team.

Also having a tough time is Vedad Ibisevic, whose Stuttgart side lie just two points above an automatic relegation spot. The team has been bad enough, but it has really been a fall campaign to forget for the striker. Having failed to net even a single goal since January, Ibisevic’s sluggish form continued through the entirety of 2014. To make matters worse, he spent the majority of the past two months on the sidelines because of injury problems. The ways things are going for Vedo and his employer, it may be possible that a change of scenery is in the cards in the near future, just as it was three years ago when Ibisevic swapped Hoffenheim for Stuttgart mid-season. Though, with Ibisevic returning to full team training, winter training may be the fresh start he desperately needs to regain his confidence and scoring touch heading into 2015 following what was undoubtedly his worst year to date.

Other players struggling to make impacts at their clubs are SC Freiburg’s Mensur Mujdza, who long ago lost his right-back place to Oliver Sorg and has only made all of two starts this season. Now 30 years old, it’s looking like Mujdza’s days at Freiburg may be numbered.

Izet Hajrovic, who moved from Galatasaray to Werder Bremen in the summer, hasn’t been much more successful, having found himself relegated to the bench after initially making a decent start, but finding it very difficult to retain his form since. He’s still just 23, but after a failed stint already in Turkey earlier this year, Hajrovic faces a challenge to save his career as a major league footballer, having left plenty to be desired in an uninspiring six months at Bremen. Hajrovic has plenty to ponder during the winter break.

The only other Bosnian player currently in the Bundesliga is Schalke’s Sead Kolasinac, who has been out long-term with a torn cruciate ligament injury suffered on the opening day of the season. Kolasinac has since returned to light training and is on schedule to return by March. Whether or not he’ll see too much playing time between now and the end of the season depends on the speed of his recovery and his fitness levels upon his return.

Overall, it’s been a pretty tough first half of the season for most of the Bosnian fledglings in Germany. Several of them are in need of a confidence booster during the winter period as they look to recover their best form just in time for crucial European Championship qualifiers against Andorra and Israel.

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Edin Halilovic

Edin is a Bosnian currently residing in the United States whose interest in the Bundesliga and German football in general has been increasing heavily in recent years. Follow him @edinh_96

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