The top two of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers Group H will clash on Monday night as leaders Turkey take on second-placed France in Saint-Denis.
World champions France will play hosts to Turkey in a top-of-the-table encounter in Group H of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers at Stade de France on Monday.
France and Turkey are level on points, having both picked up 18 points from their 7 games so far. However, Les Bleus find themselves in the second spot, due to their poor head-to-head record against the Crescent-Stars in the Qualifiers, after having been beaten by the group leaders 2-0 earlier this year.
Didier Deschamps’s side have won all of their four subsequent fixtures though, with their most recent game against Iceland ending in a 1-0 victory. And a win in Saint-Denis would not only put them at the top of Group H, but also confirm their place in next summer’s European Championships.
The same goes for Turkey as well, who also have won six of their seven group games, with their only defeat coming against Iceland in June. Since then, the Crescent-Stars have won all of their three matches, defeating Andorra (1-0), Moldova (4-0) and most recently Albania (1-0).
Ahead of this exciting Group H encounter coming our way on Monday, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
France have had to make do without a host of regulars during this international break, with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Hugo Lloris, Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti all missing due to injuries along with many others.
N’Golo Kante did not feature against Iceland after picking up an injury and while the manager has downplayed it, it is unlikely the midfield dynamo would be thrust into action on Monday. Lucas Digne went down on the field looking dazed against Iceland, but carried on for the entire game. He could very well be given a break by Deschamps.
With no Lloris in the squad, Steve Mandanda is expected to continue between the sticks. Given the importance of the game, Deschamps is likely to stick with his best XI, meaning Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane and Clement Lenglet are set to continue in defence. Lucas Hernandez could come in for Digne though, despite concerns from the former’s club Bayern Munich over his fitness.
Moussa Sissoko put in a solid performance in Kante’s absence against Iceland, but could make way for Tottenham teammate Tanguy Ndombele on Monday. Corentin Tolisso and senior figure Blaise Matuidi are expected to hold on to their spots in the middle of the park.
Olivier Giroud should continue to spearhead the France attack despite his lack of game time at Chelsea. The senior striker will be supported by Barcelona superstar Antoine Griezmann and Kingsley Coman, with the likes of Alassane Plea, Thomas Lemar and Jonathan Ikone providing options from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mandanda; Pavard, Varane, Lenglet, Hernandez; Ndombele, Tolisso, Matuidi; Coman, Giroud, Griezmann
39-year-old captain Emre Belozoglu has been ruled out of the game after picking up an injury against Albania. Kaan Ayhan, who scored in the win against France in June, is another player who got injured during the last game, but is likely to be fit for the France game as is Mahmut Tekdemir, who also picked up a knock to his ankle.
Manager Senol Gunes is unlikely to make many changes to the team that started the previous encounter. 30-year-old Mert Gunok should make his 12th appearance for the Turkish national team in goal on Monday while Zeki Celik and Umut Meras should continue as the two full-backs. But, with Ayhan a doubt, Leicester City’s Caglar Soyuncu should partner Merih Demiral at the centre of the defence.
There will be an enforced change in the middle of the park due to the injury to captain Belozoglu. His place could be taken up by Irfan Can Kahveci against the world champions. Tekdemir should reprise his role as the holding midfielder for the Crescent-Stars, with Ozan Tufan also expected to hold on to his spot in the middle of the park.
No changes are expected in the attacking trident for Turkey with last match’s goalscorer Cenk Tosun lining up on the right flank, with AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu on the opposite side and Burak Yilmaz starting as the centre-forward. Enes Unal and Kenan Karaman are handy options to call upon from the bench for Gunes.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Gunok; Celik, Demiral, Soyuncu, Meras; Kahveci, Tekdemir, Tufan; Tosun, Yilmaz, Calhanoglu
- Monday’s contest in Saint-Denis will be the seventh time that France and Turkey will be clashing against each other in all competitions.
- France have won five of their last six meetings against Turkey. The defeat in June this year was the first and only time they had lost to the Crescent-Stars.
- Turkey have one of the meanest defences in the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers. Senol Gunes’ side have let in just two goals in their seven matches, keeping six clean sheets in the process. Only Belgium and Ukraine have conceded less (1).
- France have let in four goals in their seven qualifying matches till date, keeping four clean sheets. They have managed four shut-outs in their six meetings against Turkey.
- Both France and Turkey have won eight of their nine fixtures in 2019, losing one game each.
Player to Watch
The French attacker has had a slow start to life at his new club Barcelona, managing to score just three goals in nine matches across all competitions. Naturally, Griezmann’s confidence seems to have been affected to some extent, but a good showing for the national team could go a long way in helping him get back to his best.
Griezmann had a decent outing against Iceland as he showed good energy and won the decisive penalty that Olivier Giroud scored from. But, given the absence of the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba, the 28-year-old needs to take up a bigger responsibility and be the leader of the team in the attacking third as France look to seal qualification for the Euros with a win against Turkey.
France 1-0 Turkey
Turkey have been one of the most solid outfits in the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers and have proven to be a tough opposition to break down. The fact that they have already beaten France once will fill them with great confidence.
This coupled with the number of notable absentees for Les Bleus makes this a very difficult match to call. But, playing in front of their home crowd, France should find it in themselves to eke out a narrow win against the Crescent-Stars on Monday night and book a place in the UEFA Euro 2020.