After being denied in injury time at the weekend, Croatia will play Turkey in Bursa on Tuesday to earn its first-ever Euro 2024 qualification victory.
In a recent match against Armenia, the Turkish national football team found themselves behind early on due to an own goal from player Ozan Kabak.
However, they managed to level the score before half-time through a goal from Orkun Kokcu, with Kerem Akturkoglu securing the win for Turkey in the 64th minute after coming off the bench.
Stefan Kuntz, the team’s head coach, is a former Besiktas striker and European Championship winner with Germany. Under his leadership, Turkey has won 10 out of 15 games and is currently ahead of fellow contenders Croatia and Wales in the Group D standings.
Kuntz has the team on the right track. They were promoted to League B of the Nations League last year. Portugal only narrowly beat them in the playoffs for the 2022 World Cup. Turkey only lost once during the group phase.
Turkey Form (All Competitions): D L W W W
Andrej Kramaric’s impressive turn and finish gave the home team a well-deserved lead at half-time. Croatia could not capitalize on their advantage despite dominating possession, with Ivan Perisic hitting the crossbar with a looping shot in the second half. Croatia hosted Wales in a recent European qualifier at Stadion Poljud.
However, the game took a disappointing turn for the Vatreni when Wales managed to score a last-minute equalizer, their only shot on target in the game, in the 93rd minute.
This was a significant setback for Croatia, who had won 34 and drawn one of their previous European qualifiers on home soil.
While they are still expected to qualify for the European Championships, Zlatko Dalic’s team must stay caught up in the qualification process. The draw against Wales, though only a minor setback, may impact the team’s morale as they prepare for a challenging away fixture against Turkey.
Croatia Form (All Competitions): W W L W D
In their previous match against Armenia, the Turkish national team utilized an attacking formation with Enes Unal, the in-form forward from Getafe, as the starting striker.
However, for their upcoming match on Tuesday, head coach Stefan Kuntz may make a few changes to counter their opponents’ style of play.
Suppose Turkey decides to switch to a back-four formation. In that case, Zeki Celik from Roma will likely be brought in as the right-back, with either Caglar Soyuncu or Ozan Kabak being dropped to the bench.
The Croatian national team is transitioning from the Dejan Lovren era in their defensive setup.
In their upcoming match, Josip Sutalo is expected to partner with the highly sought-after Josko Gvardiol at the centre of the visitors’ back line.
Turkey’s expected starting lineup:
Gunok; Celik, Soyuncu, Demiral, Elmali; Calhanoglu, Ozcan, Kokcu; Under, Unal, Akturktoglu
Croatia’s expected starting lineup:
Livakovic; Juranovic, Sutalo, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Pasalic, Kramaric, Perisic
Head to Head
In the previous eight encounters between the Croatian and Turkish national teams, Turkey won one match, while Croatia emerged victorious in two. The remaining five games have ended in draws.
Time, Date & Venue
Date: Tuesday, March 28
Time: 06:45 pm, UTC
Venue: Timsah Arena Stadium, Bursa City
Croatia has a strong track record of avoiding defeat in various competitions, thanks to its tactical expertise and experience. Even if they fall behind in Bursa, they possess the skills and know-how to mount a comeback and tame a talented Turkish side.
However, Turkey has been performing well lately and has a talented squad capable of causing an upset. The hosts will be looking to exploit any weaknesses in Croatia’s defence and take advantage of their home turf.