When two underdogs meet in a major tournament, it would be a clash to savor for all the fans. That would be the case when Turkey meets Croatia in a Group D encounter of Euro 2016. This match will be played at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on Sunday, June 12.
Turkey missed the last Euros after being a semi-finalist at Euro 2008. The Crescent Stars managed by Fatih Terim will have high hopes of replicating that performance from 2008 but their task is cut out in a tough group which also has Spain and Czech Republic. Expectations run high for the Turks and to have any semblance of hope, they need a positive start against Croatia.
The team boasts of great creative skills in the midfield with the likes of Hakan Calhanoglu, Arda Turan and Selcik Inan capable of dazzling any opponent. Their options up front aren’t too bad either with Burak Yilmaz flanked by Nuri Sahin and the exciting 18-year-old Emre Mor. No wonder then that Terim harbors high hopes of progressing deep in the tournament!
Turkey had a very poor start to their qualification and back then it looked difficult for them to scrape through. But a strong finish to their campaign that saw them notch five wins and two draws resulted in qualification as the best third placed side. They would have hoped for an easier group in France but the squad has enough quality to match any side foot-to-foot.
Take nothing away from their opponents Croatia who boast of some exciting playmakers themselves. The pairing of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic is a delight for any manager and envy for every opponent. Add to them the combination of Ivan Perisic and Mateo Kovacic – you have one of the most solid engine rooms any team would love to have at its disposal!
Like their opponents of the night, Croatia too had a solid finish to their qualifying campaign that saw them notch six wins in their last seven matches. That helped them qualify in the second spot just behind Italy.
With the exception of a poor loss to England and a dull draw against Greece, Turkey have had a solid recent record. With eight wins in their last ten encounters, this side is brimming with confidence ahead of the Euros. The friendly wins over Montenegro and Slovenia were not all too convincing but at the end of the day it is all about winning.
Croatia aren’t bad either with just one loss in their last ten encounters. Their last friendly was an absolute master-class with the team hammering ten goals past San Marino. And the best news coming out of that game was Mario Mandzukic regaining his confidence. That should surely be a warning bell for Turkey!
Key players and team news
Yilmaz plays as the lone striker for Turkey and most of his chances are supplied by Calhanoglu. The creative playmaker is deadly with his incisive passes but also watch out for him in dead-ball situations. Central defence is a cause of concern which may see one of their defensive midfielders starting at the back for this match.
Any concerns on the form of Mandzukic were put to bed in the thrashing of San Marino. He draws his strength from the midfield duo of Rakitic and Modric whose mastery of the midfield could prove vital in the final analysis. Captain Darijo Srna is a solid presence at the back for coach Ante Cacic.
It is a difficult match to predict with both sides of similar qualities. And with the group being a tight one, a good start is of utmost importance for both. Turkey had a solid run-up to the tournament but somewhere in their performances against England and Slovenia, there still are question marks. They are a scoring side though, having failed to score in only one match in previous ten encounters.
It is tough to ignore the positive effect of a high-scoring match and Croatia will definitely hope to reap rewards from their last match. Not just that, they have been consistent in their last ten matches with just one loss.
It will boil down to the defence of both sides and Croatia may have a slight edge here. Back both the teams to score while Croatia may edge past Turkey for a victory.
Both teams to score at odds of 2.0 with Betfred