Croatia and Turkey will meet again just a few months after their Euro 2016 clash in France at the Stadion Maksimir in Zagreb on Monday, September 5 to open the two teams’ respective Russia World Cup qualifying campaigns.
Turkey will kick off their Group I campaign hoping to get revenge against Croatia and have more to be optimistic about this time around having found a potential wonder-kid in Borussia Dortmund star Emre Mor who has been dazzling defences ever since breaking on to the scene this summer.
Manchester City youngster Enes Unal is another name to keep an eye on. The 19-year-old striker has been scoring for fun at his loan club Twente but was ruled out last minute due to injury. As a result in form Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun and Mainz star Yunus Malli will compete for a place up front.
Turkish national team boss Fatih Terim is expected to make a few changes to the side that faced Croatia last time around. On loan West Ham winger Gokhan Tore is in the team as is Mor and both could all start which would make for a totally different attacking lineup to their last encounter with Croatia.
Terim has however, decided not to pick in form Barcelona winger Arda Turan after a bust up with the experienced Turkish international and his absence could end up proving costly. Galatasaray veteran Selcuk Inan is not in the squad neither are the likes of Caner Erkin and Gokhan Gonul.
Besiktas maestro Oguzhan Ozyakup was called up but has been dropped due to injury and replaced by Tolga Cigerci. The inclusion of Cigerci in the team could end up being a blessing in disguise. Turkey have a strong midfield but an unbalanced one with a lot of emphasis on technical ability and attacking prowess but lacking assiduousness.
The former HSV star is a work horse and by far the most dynamic midfielder in the current squad. Cigerci covers more distance than any other player in the Turkish midfield, defends well, passes accurately and will offer the team what they lacked at Euro 2016 – if of course he plays.
Turkey do however, have the advantage of playing Croatia in a spectator-less stadium due to a two-match stadium ban imposed on the country after crowd disturbances at Euro 2016.
Croatia have a full strength side and will go in as favourites but they did look shaky defensively at the European Championships and with Turkey’s faster, more dynamic looking attacking trident upfront they may just end up getting caught out.
Turkey are in for a tough game but will be desperate to make up for a disappointing Euro’s and could punish Croatia’s shaky backline.
The Crescent Stars do not exactly have a solid defence either and have only kept a clean sheet once in their last five games against Croatia.
Turkey and Croatia are both better going forwards than they are defending and it would not be a surprise to see a high scoring game tonight.
Croatia starting lineup (4-2-3-1 formation): Subasic; Vrsaljko, Corluka, Vida, Strinic; Modric, Badelj; Brozovic, Rakitic, Perisic; Mandzukic
Turkey starting lineup (4-3-3 formation): Babacan; Şener, Serdar, Çağlar, İsmail; Tolga, Ozan Tufan, Calhanoglu; Mor, Gokhan Tore, Tosun
Prediction: Turkey Draw No Bet / Over 2.5 goals
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