Euro 2016 | Friday 17 June | Allianz Riviera | 21:00
Defending European champions Spain come into this Friday night clash looking to build on the three points gained from their victory over the Czech Republic. Another victory will surely send La Roja into the knockout stages.
Turkey cannot settle for anything less than victory in this fixture following their 1-0 loss to Croatia. Failure to beat Spain will result in an early exit for the Crescent-Stars. Turkey are twelve FIFA ranking spots behind the Spanish yet will come into this clash hopeful of an upset given a strong run of form coming into the tournament.
Spain dominated their opening fixture against the Czech Republic, the 1-0 scoreline not quite reflecting the huge swathes of possession and ample chances enjoyed by the victors.
Of course, Vincente del Bosque’s Spanish side will always look to control the game with their tiki-taka style of play, although the sheer ease with which they prevented Czech Republic from stringing together a passage of play was quite remarkable.
That’s not to say that Spain don’t have their problems. Their group stage exit at the 2014 World Cup was an indication that other sides have become wise to their tactics, while their failure to make their dominance truly count in their opening match was worrying.
La Roja were made to wait 87 minutes to break the deadlock and make no mistake, could easily have conceded on the break as they pressed further and further up the pitch.
The mere fact that Spain are not favourites to win the tournament is probably as much based on their lack of a world-class centre-forward as the waning of their air of invincibility over the past two years.
Turkey made a battling start to their Euro 2016 campaign against Croatia in a match in which they created few clear cut chances. It was a relatively flat performance on the part of the Turks, who could only muster two shots on target despite having half of the possession.
Turkey failed to move through the gears at pace and the likes of Arda Turan (substituted) and Hakan Calhanoglu - touted as Turkey’s star quality - were disappointing.
In all fairness, Croatia were extremely organised in limiting danger and a Luka Modric stunner ended up separating the two sides. It was, however, a match that Turkey desperately needed to get something from given the competitive nature of the group.
As mentioned, Turkey have good general form coming into this encounter but will also be mindful of the fact that they haven’t come up against a side of Spain’s quality in quite some time.
Turkey have only lost twice in their last 17 matches, yet both have come in the space of four games. The Crescent-Stars will hope to be at their absolute best, and hope for a slice of luck, to upset a strong Spanish outfit.
Spain will enjoy the vast majority of possession and break down any Turkish counter-attacks as quickly as they begin. Judged simply on their opening fixtures, these sides are poles apart. Turkey lack the heart and incisive running that is required to rattle Spain. Although La Roja will always offer up a chance or two, it’s up to Turkey to take said chances. I’m not sure they’re capable of doing so. Back Spain to pick up the win at 4/10.