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UEFA Euro 2020 Preview: Turkey


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UEFA ranking: 18

How they qualified: Runners-up in qualifying Group H

Euro 2016 performance: Group stage

Previous European Championship appearances: 4

Best result: Semi-finals (2008)

Background

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Turkey will be hoping to improve on their Euro 2016 performance where they failed to make it past the group stages. The Crescent-Stars could be considered dark horses of this summer’s European Championship, after qualifying for Euro 2020 with the joint-best defence (3 conceded), having also collected four points from the two games against world champions France. The Turkey team is built on a strong defence, conceding in only two qualifying games, and any team this summer will have to work hard to break down this Turkish team. Drawn in a competitive group, the Turkish fans will be hoping for a first knockout stage game since 2008.

The Coach

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Senol Gunes is the oldest manager at Euro 2020, and the 68-year-old will be one of the most experienced coaches with a managerial career that dates back to 1988. Gunes spent the majority of a 32-year managerial career in his native Turkey, with only one brief spell as the manager of South Korean side FC Seoul. Gunes first took charge of the Turkish national team back in 2000 and he managed to lead them to a third-place finish at the 2000 World Cup. 15 years after he left the job, Gunes returned to once again lead Turkey in 2019. Under his management, Turkey finished second behind France in qualifying and only conceded three goals in the process.

Key Player

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Burak Yilmaz is the captain of the national team, as well as currently second in the all-time goal-scoring rankings. The 35-year-old has had a prolific club career so far as well and is on the back of a 15-goal season in Ligue 1 for Lille. In this relatively young Turkish side, Yilmaz will be a key leader, and with Turkey built on a strong defence, the striker will be key on the other side of the pitch to win games. Yilmaz is currently 24 goals away from Hakan Sukur’s all-time record for Turkey and while at the age of 35 it is unlikely that he will catch up, he will certainly want to go down fighting.

Predicted line-up

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Euro 2020 chances

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Turkey have been drawn in Group A alongside Italy, Wales, and Switzerland, and they will fancy their chances of not only finishing second but also beating Italy to top spot. Italy are currently on an extraordinary unbeaten run, but Turkey’s strong defence and experience of staying undefeated against France in qualifying will give the Turkish team confidence to punch above their weight this summer too. While it will be tough to replicate the 2008 semi-final finish, Turkey certainly have the quality to cause a few shocks this summer.

Transfer Watch

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A few years ago, Hakan Calhanoglu was one of the hottest properties in football following some excellent displays for Hamburger SV. The Turkish midfielder stepped up his game following a move to Bayer Leverkusen, which promoted 7-time Champions League winners AC Milan to dish out €23.5 million for Calhanoglu. Perhaps Calhanoglu has really stepped up his game in the 2020-21 season, with the 27-year-old attracting interest from some of the biggest clubs in Europe this summer. The Turkish player’s contract at AC Milan is expiring this summer and while he has been heavily linked with Manchester United in the past, it’s Milan’s Serie A rivals Juventus that are set to sign the midfielder on a free transfer. The Old Lady are reportedly ready to offer the Turkish international a €5-million-a-year contract, with the player failing to agree terms with AC Milan. If the rumours are to be believed, Juventus look set to seal another bargain this summer.

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