Turkey look to rekindle old magic at Euro 2016


Arda Turan, left, will be one of Turkey's key players at Euro 2016 in France. (Osama Faisal/AP)

Turkey has come remarkably close to qualifying for two major finals. It was minutes away from doing so at the 2002 World Cup, but narrowly lost to eventual champion Brazil in the semifinals. Six years later, the Turks suffered another heartbreaking defeat in the Euro 2008 semis to Germany. They have a tough group in 2016, but will be keen to impress under the tutelage of their experienced coach.

Goalkeepers: Volkan Babacan (Medipol Basaksehir), Onur Recep Kivrak (Trabzonspor), Harun Tekin (Bursaspor).
Defenders: Gokhan Gonul (Fenerbahce), Sener Ozbayrakli (Fenerbahce), Caner Erkin (Fenerbahce), Mehmet Topal (Fenerbahce), Hakan Kadir Balta (Galatasaray), Semih Kaya (Galatasaray), Ismail Koybasi (Besiktas), Ahmet Yilmaz Calik (Genclerbirligi).
Midfielders: Selcuk Inan (Galatasaray), Emre Mor (Nordsjaelland), Ozan Tufan (Fenerbahce), Volkan Sen (Fenerbahce), Oguzhan Ozyakup (Besiktas), Olcay Sahan (Besiktas), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen), Nuri Sahin (Borussia Dortmund), Arda Turan (Barcelona), Yunus Malli (Mainz 05).
Forwards: Burak Yilmaz (Beijing Guoan), Cenk Tosun (Besiktas).

Nicknamed the “Emperor,” Fatih Terim is one of the most well-known managers at Euro 2016. The 62-year-old has had spells in charge at AC Milan, Fiorentina and Galatasaray, among others. This is his third stint with Turkey and it’s been his most successful yet based on wins. Terim has a 66 percent win rate from 30 games so far. He was also in charge when the Turks reached the semis at Euro 2008.

4-2-3-1 – (GK) Babacan – (D) Erkin, Balta, Kaya, Gonul – (DM) Inan, Tufan – (AM) Calhanoglu, Ozyakup, Turan – (F) Tosun

MORE ON EURO 2016: Sportsnet has you covered with in-depth coverage of Euro 2016 in France, which runs from June 10 to July 10.

Match schedule || Group standings || Live scoreboard || Roster lists
Profiles: All 24 teams || History of Euro || Top 10 moments in Euro history

June 12: vs. Croatia in Paris
June 17: vs. Spain in Nice
June 21: vs. Czech Republic in Lens

Turkey was the best third-placed side in Euro qualifying after accumulating 18 points. The Turks started the campaign with back-to-back losses to Iceland and the Czech Republic, who was drawn into Group D with the Crescent Stars. They went unbeaten in their next eight matches to reach the European Championship.

Turkey has a lot of depth in central midfield. Most of the midfielders are technically gifted but there are a couple with defensive tendencies like Selcuk Inan, who will likely be a starter in a deep-lying role. Group D also boasts Croatia and Spain, both of whom are stacked with quality in the centre of the pitch, so the Turks have the ability to match either team.

Ironically, the Turkish defence lacks defensive qualities, especially centrally. Caner Erkin is a solid left back, but he loves to bomb forward. Considering how weak the team is on the rest of the back line, he may not be able to roam as much.

Hakan Balta: He’s one of Turkey’s most experienced defenders, and can play either in the middle or on the right side of defence. With Serdar Aziz overlooked by Terim, it’ll be up to Balta to quarterback the defence.

Arda Turan: Turan had to wait until January before making his Barcelona debut. He is arguably Turkey’s most popular player but there will be questions asked about his match fitness and current form. The 29-year-old started in just 13 games in all competitions, recording three goals and five assist in the process.

Cenk Tosun: Burak Yilmaz was supposed to start up front over Tosun, but Yilmaz has played just two games for Beijing Guoan since he left Galatasaray. Therefore, the Besiktas striker could be Terim’s best option to lead the attack for Turkey. He usually came off the bench for the Turkish champions, but scored five goals in five starts during the season.

How will the defence cope? There is no doubting Turkey’s technique and attacking prowess, but the back line is clearly the weak link. After a rocky start to qualifying, the Turks conceded just four goals in their final eight matches. However, with Spain, Croatia and the Czechs in their group, this will be a stern test.

Turkey can very easily progress to the knockout stage. Whether it can do so as a third-place finisher, a runner-up or a group winner is yet to be known. Croatia is similar to the Turks with its weaknesses on defence, so placing in the top two is a real possibility.


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