Turkey vs Croatia Denied a weekend pause, Croatia seeks their first Euro 2024 qualifying win against Turkey on Tuesday when their Group D rivals face off in Bursa.
Last year’s World Cup semi-finalists were drawn by Wales, while hosts already have three points on the board following the win in Armenia.
In its first game since the devastating earthquake that hit the country last month, Turkey faced off against regional rivals Armenia on Saturday in a highly heated meeting between countries with a long history of hostility.
Turkey vs Croatia Kick Off Time
NAME: Turkey – Croatia
DATE: 28 March 2023
TIME: 18:45 UTC
LOCATION: Timsah Arena, Bursa, Turkey
Even though Ozan Kabak’s early own goal left the Crescent and Stars behind in Yerevan, they equalized with Orkun Kökçü before the break and Galatasaray winger Kerem Aktürkoglu got the win in the 64th minute after getting off the bench.
Former Besiktas striker and head coach Stefan Kuntz, who is also European Champion with Germany, has therefore announced his 10th win in 15 matches he has been in, and helped put his team ahead of Croatia and Wales in the first two-place finish in Group D. .
It looks like a triple race for automatic qualifiers, as perhaps only Latvia and Armenia are ready to make up for the numbers, and Turkey will have to postpone the claims of the two countries that have recently gotten used to participating in major tournaments.
Under Kuntz though, they seem to be on the right track, as they reverted their Nations League promotion to League B last year, losing only to Portugal in the Qatar 2022 playoffs and losing only once in the group stage.
Indeed, just one defeat in Turkey’s last nine matches could be in the cards for next summer, since the heartache that meant the World Cup played in Germany, where a large Turkish community lives. However, they will now face one of their toughest tests on the roads there, in the form of Croatia.
Turkey vs Croatia Playing XI
Turkey’s possible top eleven: Günok; Çelik, Soyuncu, Demiral, Elmali; Calhanoglu, Ozcan, Kökçü; Under, Unal, Aktürktoglu
Possible starting eleven of Croatia: Livakovic; Juranovic, Sutalo, Gvardiol, Sosa; Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic; Pasalic, Kramaric, Perisic
After pitching an offensive line-up in Armenia with in-form Getafe forward Enes Ünal as the starting forward, Stefan Kuntz could make a few changes to counter the very different challenge of Tuesday’s visitors.
Unal had scored six goals in his last four La Liga games before the international half kicked off, so he is expected to retain his spot, but Kerem Aktürkoglu scored as a backup last time and could force him to enter 11 on the left flank.
If the Crescent-Stars return to the four, then Zeki Celik from Rome will most likely come right-back, Caglar Soyuncu or Ozan Kabak may fall into the bench.
Meanwhile, Croatia continues the post-Dejan Lovren era in its defensive formation and Josip Sutalo should join Josko Gvardiol, who is again in demand at the heart of the visitors’ backline.
The familiar midfield trio of Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic will be relied upon once again, but go even further to include Nikola Vlasic and Mario Pasalic.
Both made a cameo appearance on Saturday, but will only start if Marko Livaja is knocked down and opening day striker Andrej Kramaric takes on the role of centre-forward.
Turkey vs Croatia Last Match Result
Turkey form (all competitions): W D L W W W
Croatia form (all competitions):D W W L W D
The last time these two countries met on Turkish soil, a friendly match played in Istanbul three years ago had ended 3-3 and Croatia had lost only twice to Tuesday’s hosts in the previous 10 matches.
Allowing the Group D fights to drop by two points on opening night, the current crop of Croats hopes to continue this largely positive trend midweek; it also allows a direct opponent to take a point from Split for the top two on Saturday.
Andrej Kramaric’s sharp turn and finish gave the hosts a well-deserved halftime advantage at Stadion Poljud, and they continued to hold the ball after the break before Ivan Perisic hit the crossbar with a looping column.
But Vatreni squandered an apparently decisive victory spot by sending an injury-time equalizer into Wales’ only column in the 93rd minute.
Croatia had 34 victories and had drawn one of their previous European qualifiers at home, so even failing to beat Rob Page’s brave Welsh side is demoralizing ahead of a tough Turkey trip.
While Zlatko Dalic’s men will still wait to safely negotiate a move to another euro at the end of the qualifying process, they cannot afford to lag behind any longer in the early race.
After losing just one of their last 14 games – to eventual champion Argentina in the World Cup semi-finals – their status as one of Europe’s heavyweights has remained intact despite an aging squad. Indeed, the vast experience of Perisic and the timeless captain Luka Modric can be invaluable in Bursa.