Euro 2016 Group D: Croatia midfield quality can overcome Turkey tenacity
Holly Thackeray | June 10, 2016
Turkey v Croatia
- Euro 2016 Group D
- Saturday, June 11th
- Kick-off: 14:00 BST
- Parc des Princes, Paris
- Live on ITV
Croatia cannot count chickens with Czechs next
Everyone’s favourite European Championship dark horse Croatia kick off their campaign for the Euro 2016 crown with a Group D duel against Turkey, and it is crucial for the Blazers to begin well here against an opposition they have never lost to in six previous bouts.
That record of two victories against the Crescent-Stars should stand coach Ante Cacic’s recruits (even-money favourites courtesy of Coral) in good stead before dust-ups versus the Czech Republic and Spain, both of which could prove tougher tests.
With four draws under their belt against the Blazers, Fatih Terim’s team may also feel this is their best chance of at least picking up a point (23/10) as the Czechs already showed they could outclass the Crescent-Stars in qualifying.
Historical head-to-heads do not favour this ambitious Asian gateway nation, but the current vintage have shown they care little for toeing the line after notching their first ever goal past England at Wembley.
Complacency could prove Croatia’s biggest downfall, but the Blazers bagged 10 last time out when playing minnows San Marino to complete a streak of seven unbeaten, while they also kept things tight in qualifying with just five goals conceded so are 11/8 for clean sheet, or 9/4 for a victory to nil.
Modric and Rakitic to run riot
At a plum price of 3/1 to be in the lead after 30 minutes of play, Croatia’s quality midfield contingent includes schemers such as Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric, who ply their club trade at bitter La Liga rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively but unite for their nation here.
The playmaking pair should be running the show with their intuitive passing to unlock Turkey, who only qualified for the France finals as a third placed team.
Who didn’t score in that rout for the Blazers boys last time out when hosting San Marino? Maestro Modric as it happens, though the former Spurs schemer will be happy supplying the likes of midfield partner Rakitic (who did net and is 10/3 to do so again).
There also Juventus marksman and recent hat-trick hero Mario Mandzukic (who has struck against the Turks before and is 9/2 to notch first), Inter Milan wingman Ivan Perisic (15/8 anytime) and formidable Fiorentina forward Nikola Kalinic (9/1 to help himself to another double or more) to consider for Croatia.
Their quality doesn’t just stop at the likely starters, with ex-Leicester City striker Andrej Kramaric and young midfield prodigies Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic also putting pressure on the Blazers XI.
Terim’s team no Turkeys
The situation may seem stacked against Turkey, but Terim’s men have shown spirit thus far to reach France, with punters able to back the unlikely bunch at 3/1 for three points at the first time of asking.
Croatia have a fairly old rearguard, minus discarded Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren, to have a go at. Punters may fancy Turkish chances of getting on target with staunch skipper Arda Turan (10/3 to rescue his team anytime), recent scorer against England and cracking free-kick taker Hakan Calhanoglu (11/4) and prolific Burak Yilmaz (7/4), who has hit 20 in 44 caps but has now taken his talents to the Chinese Super League.
All in all, Croatia still look the better bet, with so many stars regularly competing at the highest level, to come out tops from this tasty opening Pool D encounter.
Coral’s top tip: 3/1 for Croatia to lead after 30 mins is a fantastic flutter.