Euro 2016: Turkey v Croatia - Expert v Expert Preview

Day three of Euro 2016 gets under way with an intriguing clash between Turkey and Croatia at the Parc des Princes in Paris, in a repeat of a memorable quarter-final from Euro 2008.

We caught up with the biggest English speaking Turkish football site @Turkish_Futbol for the lowdown on the Crescent-Stars, whilst football writer Juraj Vrdoljak gives us the info on Croatia.




@Turkish_Futbol on Turkey: Fatih Terim faces a problems in defence. Bayer Leverkusen defender Omer Toprak has been left out of the squad and Serdar Aziz is out injured. Terim has been forced to play defensive midfielder Mehmet Topal as a centre-back. The ‘Spider’ as he is also known is however, no stranger to playing in the back four and will be joined by experienced Galatasaray stalwart Hakan Balta. Despite their problems at the back Turkey have only conceded more than one goal in a single game just once in their last 16 matches.

Elsewhere Terim has a full strength squad at his disposal. Ozan Tufan and Selcuk Inan are almost certain to get the nod as Terim’s trusted holding midfielders but faces a tricky decision picking his attacking midfield trio and striker.

Turkey are likely to be setup in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Arda Turan and Hakan Calhanoglu are likely to get the nod while the likes of Ozyakup, Volkan Sen and 18-year-old wonder-kid Emre Mor - who was just snapped up by Borussia Dortmund - remain in the race.

Upfront Burak Yilmaz faces a race for match fitness which could open the door for Cenk Tosun to start.

Juraj Vrdoljak on Croatia: Croatia is heading out to its fourth consecutive Euro campaign amidst the foul atmosphere between the fans and the Croatian FA, which is something that will certainly leave a mark on the team itself.

The coach Ante Čačić, who many believe is not the right man for the role, after a series of tactical experiments, finally seems to be locked on 4-2-3-1 formation. The main trouble appears to be the dropping of Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren, who clashed with Čačić ahead of Euro, which leaves Croatia with even less defensive options.

Also, it still remains uncertain whether Croatia is going to field its only left back, Ivan Strinić of Napoli, or will the coach opt for right-back Šime Vrsaljko playing on the opposite flank, with veteran captain Darijo Srna still being the first option on the right-back position.



@Turkish_Futbol: After an abysmal start to their qualification campaign Terim’s boys managed to defy the odds and pull off a near-miracle of a comeback. Following their phoenix like resurrection the Crescent-Stars have lost just one of their last 16 games. Considering how impossible qualification looked at one stage most fans are just pleased to have got this far. Turkey are brimming with confidence and under little pressure going into their opening game.

Vrdoljak: Croatia finished second behind Italy in the qualification group, getting themselves in more trouble than expected after a solid start. Although unbeaten in the last eight games, Croatia tends to struggle against opponents who have a clear idea of their style of play.

The opponents chosen by Čačić in the pre-tournament friendlies were more-less used as a sketch board for his tactical experimenting (mostly failed), with victory against Moldova (1-0) and latest thrashing of San Marino (10-0) also serving merely as a morale boost for the offensive part of the team.




@Turkish_Futbol: Arda Turan will be the key man going into Euro 2016 and has been directly involved in nine goals in his last 11 games for Turkey. The bearded winger is one of the three surviving players from the class of Euro 2008 - the others being Mehmet Topal and Hakan Balta. Turan brings experience and quality to the midfield combining an assiduous work ethic with attacking flair. The Barcelona man is also the captain and will be the leader of what is quite a youthful side.

Vrdoljak: Luka Modrić. The Real Madrid midfielder will be the main engine of Croatia's build-up play, providing vital passes and dictating tempo. It's also worth pointing out Ivan Perišić, the Inter Milan winger, who is in great form, especially when playing for Croatia, and will be amongst the biggest offensive threats.



@Turkish_Futbol: Turkey have reached the semi-final stages of the last two major international tournaments they have competed in. The Turks go into Euro 2016 in great form with arguably their strongest side ever and a manager who knows all about international tournaments. Turkey also could have a psychological edge over Croatia after knocking them out of the Euro 2008. Turkey are in better shape than the betting odds suggest and there is clear value on Turkey or Draw at 1.73.

Vrdoljak: With both Croatia and Turkey having trouble in the defensive department, I'd say that it would be safe to assume both teams will concede, an option standing at 2.00



Croatia v Israel - International Friendly : News Photo

@Turkish_Futbol: Hakan Calhanoglu is one of the best free-kick takers in the tournament and has the ability to pull something out the hat from just about anywhere in the opposition half. It may be worth taking a punt on the Bayer Leverkusen playmaker to score at odds of 5.30.

Vrdoljak: Vedran Ćorluka is a technically gifted centre-back, but his lack of pace means that he often has trouble catching up with the opposition's strikers. Considering that, he could make an error which would ultimately lead to him picking up a card, which stands at 3.75.



@Turkish_Futbol: Turkey 2-1 Croatia at 13.00

Vrdoljak: Turkey 1-1 Croatia at 6.50