Thursday, June 19, 2008

UEFA Euro 2008: Croatia-Turkey Preview

Raise your hand if you saw this match-up coming. That's what I thought. The tournament's comeback kids, Turkey, face the surprise winners of Group B, Croatia, in Vienna for the right to meet Germany. There were only three come-from-behind victories in the group stages and Turkey was responsible for two of them, including their 3-2 win over the Czech Republic to clinch a quarterfinal spot. But injuries and suspensions are beginning to catch up with the Turks. Goalkeeper Volkan Demirel picked up a stoppage time red card Sunday and will miss the game. The injury list includes captain Emre Belozoglu, leaving Turkey with only 17 players. Look for Turkey to play an up-tempo style, led by Nihat Kahveci, who scored the final two goals against the Czechs.

A well-rested Croatia side have scored four goals from four different players, although striker Igor Budan has been lost with a knee injury. Coach Slaven Bilic's men have played sound defense, with two clean sheets in three games, defense that will be tested by a relentless Turkish attack.

The venue: Ernst Happel Stadion, Vienna, Austria
The broadcast: ESPN, 2:45 pm ET
The prediction: They won't be lacking in confidence, but the depletion of Turkey's ranks may be too much to overcome. Croatia will face Germany once again after a 2-1 win.

No comments: