Croatia v Turkey
Sunday June 12, 11:00pm
Our gradings have virtually nothing between these two teams and this has the potential to be a really good game between two talented sides who like to attack.
Turkey have never beaten Croatia but they arrive at these Finals in excellent form and with a young team capable of springing a few surprises. After taking just one point from their first three qualifiers the Turks turned things around in impressive style and were unbeaten in 13 matches with 10 wins prior to their warm-up defeat against England, but bounced back strongly with wins against Montenegro and Slovenia ahead of this tournament.
Arda Turan missed the England game and he brings the sort of quality that led Barcelona to spend £25 million on him to the team. He’s joined in attack by the excellent Hakan Calhanoglu, while they have an experienced defence and several promising young midfielders.
Since the start of 2014 16 of Turkey’s 26 matches have had at least three goals and they only failed to score in the opening game of their qualifying campaign. A sign of the progress this squad has made under Fatih Terim, who has the experience of taking Turkey to the semis in 2008 in his last spell in charge of the national side, is that we have them ranked 20th now, up from 54th three years ago, and they’ve won their last five matches against teams ranked within 10 places (either higher or lower) of them.
However, most of those wins were against lesser sides than Croatia as Turkey’s ranking was lower at the time than it is now, and this is a really good Croatian side.
A midfield that boasts the quality of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic and Mateo Kovacic is formidable while Mario Mandzukic and Nikola Kalinic give them a cutting edge up front. If Ante Cacic can find a way to get the most out of these players this is a team that could repeat the surprise wins of Greece in 2004 and Denmark in 1992.
Defeats against Brazil and Mexico saw them exit at the group stage at the last World Cup and that is where they were eliminated four years ago after finding themselves in a group with Italy and Spain. Their luck hasn’t improved much with this draw but they at least have some tournament experience.
Since 2014 they are unbeaten against teams ranked within 10 places of them as they’ve won three of five matches. More impressively just one of those games was at home and that includes a pair of 1-1 draws with Italy in qualifying.
Croatia look the better team but Turkey will attack them and while two of the last three meetings between these teams have finished goalless we shouldn’t see a repeat this time. Both teams have scored in Croatia’s last five matches against teams ranked in our top 50 and that looks an excellent bet at 2.1 and preferable to Over 2.5 Goals as three of those games finished 1-1.
In the match outcome Croatia can be backed at 2.2 but that looks a little on the short side against a Turkish side that are being under-rated coming into this tournament. Instead the draw at 3.5 looks the best value with the 1-1 correct score at 7.0 worth a smaller wager.
BACK – Both Teams to Score at 2.14