There will some talent on display in Paris on Sunday afternoon as Turkey meet Croatia in Group D’s opener and Will Burns selects two profit-making selections.
Sunday 12th June 2016 – 14:00 BST
EURO 2016 – GROUP D
TURKEY v CROATIA
Turkey head coach Fatih Terim’s preferred formation for his side during qualification was 4-3-3 with the two wide men drifting in often. The Turkey coach has since experimented with a 4-2-3-1 system in the pre-tournament friendlies against England and could stick with this system for the championships. There will be two holding midfielders while Barcelona man Arda Turan will start on the left but be allowed to venture into the middle to get on the ball as much as possible to help out Leverkusen midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu.
In addition, Turkey have some great players playing domestically too including qualifier top scorer Burak Yilmaz who plys his trade with Galatasaray. Burak may not start on Sunday, although despite a lack of action due to injury, he may be given the nod to lead the attack, though Besiktas’ Cenk Tosun is an option for Terim. Apart from that pair, Turkey lack alternatives up front and I see this being their downfall in this tournament.
Looking at Sunday’s opponents, Turkey’s squad suffers a huge gulf in class with the Croatians. With a midfield featuring Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic, they should be up to the challenge of anyone in Group D. They finished behind Italy in qualifying but were unbeaten in their two meetings with the Azzurri and overall both scored more and surprisingly conceded fewer than the Italians.
In attack, my pick to be top team goalscorer Perisic, will have experienced target man Mario Mandzukic, now with Juventus, ahead of him. Former Blackburn Rovers flop Nikola Kalinic has also been called up, but his career has really moved on in the Serie A at Fiorentina.
Croatia have lost only one of their last four meetings with Turkey, and that was on penalties, so I’m thinking they should secure a win. This will be a cagey affair for both teams in a group with no easy match. Later down the line, I see Turkey qualifying in third place, behind Spain and Croatia so expect Ante Cacic’s side making a good start in this one.
If you’re betting… good luck!
TIP: Croatia to win (2.20 at Ladbrokes)
TIP: Correct Score Turkey 0-1 Croatia (7.00 at BetVictor)