Turkey v Croatia – Parc des Princes at 14:00 live on ITV
On Sunday, the 1st match of Group D takes place as Turkey take on Croatia at the famous Parc des Princes.
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With Spain expected to top the group, both sides will be battling it out for 2nd spot, along with the Czech Republic and an early win for either team could provide that vital confidence boost.
Turkey finished 3rd in Group A and qualified for the tournament as the best 3rd-placed team, after finishing behind group winners Czech Republic and 2nd placed Iceland.
The Turks have only had 1 defeat in their last 16 matches and that was a 2-1 defeat to England in an international friendly a few weeks ago.
Victories over the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Iceland helped seal Turkey’s place in the tournament and led by their captain Arda Turan (Barcelona), Turkey are definitely a side to take seriously in this competition and cannot be ruled out of a top 2 finish in Group D.
In their last appearance at the Euros in 2008, Turkey made the semi-finals of the competition by beating opponents Croatia on penalties at the quarter-final stages.
Croatia will be tough to beat this year however, after qualifying 2nd to Italy in Group H and managing to avoid defeat to the Italians on both occasions in the qualification process.
After an impressive qualifying campaign which consisted of scoring 20 goals (the most in the group), whilst only conceding 5, Croatia have been tipped as decent outsiders in the competition and are currently 27.00 to lift the trophy with Unibet.
In addition, Croatia have arguably one of the best midfield partnerships of all the squads, with the creative talents of Luka Modric (Real Madrid) and Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona) likely to dominate central midfield and cause most teams some problems. Ante Cacic also has Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan) at his disposal and Mario Mandzukic (Juventus) leads the front-line.
Towards the end of their qualifying campaign however, their form dipped and failure to beat Azerbaijan (0-0), as well as their defeat to Norway (2-0) prompted the sacking of Nico Kovac, who was replaced by Ante Cacic. Despite this upheaval, Croatia are yet to lose under the new boss and taking this momentum into the tournament could be crucial in regards to their progression.
As for the outcome of this game, Croatia certainly have the more talented squad and I would recommend backing Croatia -0.5 on the Asian Handicap betting market which looks great value. Victory won’t be easy, but so long as Cacic’s side bring their A-game, I can’t see Turkey causing them too many problems.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Croatia -0.5 @ 2.17 with Pinnacle
Prices correct at time of writing.