The Euro starts this Friday in Rome with an opening match between Turkey and Italy. A curtain raiser between two ambitious teams, with Turks who seem to arm themselves to create a surprise in this tournament.
When betting a small coin – literally or figuratively, depending on your mood – it is fashionable not to be like everyone else and to try the somewhat risky prognosis, one that not everyone will do. . France, Belgium or even Germany or Portugal? Too obvious. It may be the time to opt for Turkey, which opens the ball this Friday at the Euro, against Italy.
The sweet memory of 2002
No major title in the Turkish selection, but some facts of glory. Including third place at the 2002 World Cup, after a 1-0 elimination against Brazil’s Ronaldo in the semifinals. At the time, the coach of the Hakan Sükür team was called … Senol Günes. Yes yes, he is also the current coach of Turkey.
Conductor of what is, even today, considered to be the peak of the selection, the technician gave up his place in 2004. Two years ago, Turkey recalled its guide – or its “sun” , translation of his surname – to replace Mircea Lucescu, after the relegation of the team to Pool C of the League of Nations. His mission has already been accomplished, with the qualification for this Euro, before considering the 2022 World Cup.
Regarding the Euro, Turkey’s best result remains a semi-final in 2008, lost 3-2 to Germany in Switzerland. The Turkish team have only taken part in the competition four times so far. In 2016, the Turks took the door from the group stage.
“There have been ups and downs but a lot of work has been done. A new generation has arrived, surrounded by leaders, with players who play in Ligue 1, in the Bundesliga, in the Premier League. They bring character, power, rejoices for RMC Sport the former international Hamit Altintop. Seeing the team create a surprise at the Euro, it is quite possible. “
The Turks had hurt the Blues
Turkey landed its ticket for the Euro by finishing second in its group, just behind the France team (only two points apart). But the Turks will have roughed up the Blues in the process, with four points taken against Didier Deschamps’ men in two games, including this 2-0 victory.
Turkey’s last defeat dates back to last November, with a 2-0 conceded in the League of Nations against Hungary. But among Yilmaz’s latest outings, an impressive 4-2 against the Netherlands in the World Cup qualifiers in Qatar. Behind, the Turks had chained to a 3-0 in Norway. However, more surprisingly, an improbable 3-3 against Latvia. During the short preparation, the bis team was content with a sad draw against Guinea, before a 2-0 success against Moldova.
Yilmaz, boss size
Great architect of the coronation of LOSC in Ligue 1, Burak Yilmaz did not wait for his arrival in France to establish himself as part of his selection. The 35-year-old serial scorer impressed everyone in Lille but before that, he already justified his nickname “kral” (“king” in Turkish) with Besiktas, Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray or Trabzonspor. In selection, it is the boss.
Moreover in Turkey, its French success surprised no one. “If I’m impressed with his performance? No, Mevlut Erding replies to RMC Sport. I played with him in the national team, I know him from the Turkish championship … He is called the king. Here in Turkey, nobody doubted Burak’s scoring qualities. “
Talent and one more asset: thoroughness. “He is almost 36 years old and knowing him personally, he is an outstanding professional, he has an extraordinary hygiene of life and he trains all the time”, adds Mevlut Erding. The secret of longevity. Captain, the striker slammed his first hat-trick … very recently, against the Netherlands in the 4-2 qualifiers for the next World Cup, including a direct free kick.
>>> Yilmaz figures with Turkey
Holder in four of the six matches of the selection in 2021 (each time with the armband) “Kral Burak” has scored five goals. He has just scored in a preparatory match against Moldova. Suffice to say that everything is fine. Since his debut in the national team (2006), he has scored every two to three games on average and has 29 goals in 67 caps.
Around him, talent and a clever mix of promising young guard and experienced players: his Lille teammates Yusuf Yazici and Zeki Celik, the impressive Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu or AC Milan playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu.
What route to the Euro?
In an accessible pool with a resurgent Italy, Wales and Switzerland, Turkey starts in Rome, before two games in Baku. A city that is “almost like home,” smiles Hamit Altintop.
By finishing in one of the top two places in Group A, the Turks could face the second in Group B (Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Russia) or Group C (Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, North Macedonia) in eighth finals. So, if the logic is respected, a team still within its reach. In a Euro that is taking place a year behind schedule and in a particular context, there is really a Turkish card to play.