Turkey and Wales meet in a crunch Group A encounter, as both sides await their turn to make a mark at UEFA Euro 2020.
Neither Turkey nor Wales properly kick-started their UEFA Euro 2020 campaign. Wales can only thank Kieffer Moore for his vital equaliser against Switzerland, after what was a dismal display. Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey were left frustrated by an organised Swiss side, who deserved a victory in that game. The Dragons can still make amends when they meet Turkey in their crucial Group A encounter.
Unlike Wales, Turkey had nowhere to hide after Italy thoroughly smashed them in their opening game. The Azzurri never let Turkey get a sight of the goal and thoroughly dominated the game from start to finish. Turkey will have to justify their presence in the tournament with a decent result against Wales when the sides meet. A victory will undoubtedly boost their morale in the tournament, while a defeat will most likely mean the end of the road.
On the other hand, Wales could find themselves in a good position if they are to beat a heavily supported Turkey side in Azerbaijan. However, the problems were evident in the attack for Wales, where they were shot shy while Turkey themselves were able to hold their own for the first half against Italy.
If Turkey are to prove defensively consistency against Wales, then Bale, Moore and Ramsey will find it difficult to penetrate them. A loss, however, will be tricky at most, if not catastrophic. Such a game will unlock the Turkish attack, something that was absent in the face of Italy’s attack. The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
The defeat to Italy ended Turkey’s six-game unbeaten streak, but they are yet to lose two games in a row this year. It indeed gives them hope before they face Wales, against whom they have an impressive record. Their last defeat was in 1981, when ironically, their current manager Senol Gunes, was in goal for them.
Gunes will set them up in a similar fashion as he did against Italy, with five midfielders holding ground, while Burak Yilmaz will be their sole striker. Hakan Calhanoglu will be their creator in chief, and much will be expected of him in this game after being shut out by the Italian defenders.
Defensively, Gunes is unlikely to change his personnel, with Merih Demiral and Caglar Soyuncu set to continue with their partnership. Gunes might alternatively look to change things in the middle of the park, where they were run over in the last game.
The Turkey boss has options in Feyenoord starlet Orkun Kokcu and Fenerbache’s Irfan Kahveci to call upon, although Gunes will be wary of making wholesale changes there. Kahveci, however, might still come in for Ozan Tufan. Additionally, Cengiz Under, who somewhat impressed in his cameo, could replace Kenan Karaman.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Cakir; Celik, Demiral, Soyuncu, Meras; Yokuslu; Under, Yazici, Kahveci, Calhanoglu; Yilmaz
The way Wales set up and played against Switzerland, there were a few concerns about the style or personnel involved. The likes of Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale failed to shine, while the defence showed some signs of stagnation against the Swiss. However, Robert Page will be wary of making drastic changes.
That said, Wales do have options to replace some of the stars mentioned above. In terms of fitness, Ramsey is not very likely to play two games in quick succession. Harry Wilson might be pushing to replace him in the side if needed. As for Bale, he will start again in attack, as will Kieffer Moore and Daniel James.
If the Wales boss decides to make changes in defence, he has Ethan Ampadu to fit in central defence. However, it is unlikely there would be any changes to the backline, with Conor Roberts, Chris Mepham, Joe Rodon and Ben Davies retaining their spots in the defensive system that will provide cover to Danny Ward.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ward; Roberts, Mepham, Rodon, Davies; Allen, Morrell; Bale, Ramsey, James; Moore
- Turkey and Wales are set to meet for the first time in a major tournament, although they have met six times before previously.
- Turkey have lost each of their seven tournament-opening games to date but have avoided a defeat in the second game on the last three occasions.
- Six of the seven goals Wales have conceded at Euros (all editions) have been in the first half.
Player in Focus
Hakan Calhanoglu (Turkey)
There are plenty of quality players in this Turkish squad. Burak Yilmaz won a sensational Ligue 1 title with Lille while Leicester City’s defensive rock Caglar Soyuncu holds the fort at the back. But the one that stands out is AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu, Turkey’s creator in chief.
Italy’s gameplay pushed Turkey deep, and they had to focus their wits solely on defending, meaning not much was happening on the other end of the pitch. This situation could change against Wales, and to make it happen, Turkey need Calhanoglu’s expertise to break open the Welsh defence.
Bale is no stranger to stardom or being the focus in games. He certainly was the man for Wales in UEFA Euro 2016, but things have changed somehow for him at club and international levels. He might not be the formidable force he was five years ago, but the Wales captain certainly still does possess the powers to turn games around.
On a personal level, Bale will be raring to go and stamp his authority on this tournament, and there won’t be a better time than now against Turkey. Will we see the Bale of his prime lead Wales into the next round, or at least for a good result against Turkey?
Turkey 1 – 1 Wales
There’s the absolute chance one team could end up with all the points after 90 minutes, leaving the other in their shadow, or we could be witnessing a thriller here. However, this game has hallmarks of a stubborn draw, with both sides expected to score at some stage.
Wales have not shown their attacking prowess, but neither have Turkey. On paper, the Turkish defence looks stronger, but so does the Welsh attack. All in all, this game is expected to end with both teams sharing the spoils.