Turkey v Croatia, Sunday June 12
Paris, Live on ITV, 2pm
No wins from three in their opening games and the Turks looked dead and buried, but with the Dutch losing half of their qualifying matches, the door was open for Turkey to sneak third spot. Finishing as the highest ranked third-placed team, Fatih Terim’s men didn’t even need a play-off to secure a place in Euro 2016, although they know they’ll need to improve quickly if they’re to make a mark in the tournament proper.
In the group stages, they won 5 games, drew 3 and lost 2, scoring 14 goals, conceding 9 and ending up with a +5 goal difference.
A one point deduction after charges for racist behaviour in the match against Italy briefly threatened to de-rail Croatia’s Euro 2016 qualification campaign, but ultimately Ante Cacic’s men finished a point ahead of Norway to finish in second place. Croatia’s qualification was campaign built around solid defensive displays and an unbeaten home record where they won four of their five matches.
In the group stages, they won 6 games, drew 3 and lost 1, scoring 20 goals, conceding 5 and ending up with a +15 goal difference.
Despite scraping through qualification in third place, Turkey were quick starters, scoring first in nine out of ten of their qualifying matches. As the games progressed, they were the second most wasteful finishers of any qualifier requiring 9.1 shots for every goal they scored, and they’ll have to be far more clinical in France if they are to stand any chance of getting out of Group D.
Croatia were a feisty bunch in qualification – the only team at the finals to get three red cards! Only 6 teams picked up more cards than Turkey, so this could well be another game where we see red. Croatia did average 2 goals a game in qualification and given that they were the least accurate shooters of any qualifier, getting just 35.0% of their shots on target, you’d think if could make small improvements to this number, then Turkey won’t be able keep them at bay.
A narrow Croatian win would seem to be the most likely outcome, but Turkey have been fast starters, so back them to score first.
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