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A closer look at Wales’ Euro 2020 Group A opponents Turkey

·3-min read

Turkey provide the opposition for Wales’ second game of Euro 2020 on Wednesday.

Wales drew their opening Group A fixture with Switzerland 1-1, while Turkey were beaten 3-0 by Italy.

Here, the PA news agency puts the focus on the Turkey team ahead of the Baku showdown.


Italy Turkey Euro 2020 Soccer
Turkey’s Irfan Kahveci was dejected as Italy players celebrated a goal during their 3-0 win in Rome (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

Turkey came into Euro 2020 on the back of a six-game unbeaten run and were tipped by many as dark horses for the tournament. They finished behind France in their Euro 2020 qualifying group but beat them 2-0 at home and took four points off the world champions. Turkey started their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in March with impressive wins over Holland (4-2) and Norway (3-0) and drew 3-3 with Latvia. But they were well off the pace and looked overawed in their Euro 2020 opener against Italy in Rome.


Italy Turkey Euro 2020 Soccer
Senol Gunes was successful during his first spell in charge of Turkey between 2000 and 2004 (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

Senol Gunes is back in charge having guided Turkey to third place at the 2002 World Cup, an achievement which saw him named UEFA coach of the year. The 69-year-old was in charge of the national team between 2000 and 2004. Gunes has spent his entire coaching career in Turkey apart from a two-year spell in South Korea at FC Seoul from 2007-09. He returned to Turkey for a third stint at hometown club Trabzonspor and spent four years at Besiktas from 2015-19. Gunes won two Turkish Super Lig titles at Besiktas before becoming Turkey boss again in 2019.


Italy Turkey Euro 2020 Soccer
Veteran striker Burak Yilmaz (left) is key to the way Turkey play (Alberto Lingria/AP)

Turkey play with a boldness becoming of the youngest squad at Euro 2020. Gunes has employed tactics and formations for different opponents. Systems based on 4-2-3-1, a narrow 4-4-2 diamond and 4-3-3 have all been used at various times. Gunes went for 4-1-4-1 against Italy, but veteran striker Burak Yilmaz was isolated and Turkey’s defensive approach backfired. Full-backs Umur Meras and Zeki Celik usually add width to attacks, but the pair were camped in their own defensive third. Turkey defended too narrowly in Rome, allowing plenty of space on the outside that Italy exploited to maximum effect.

Key men

Chelsea v Leicester City – Emirates FA Cup Final – Wembley Stadium
Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu has been a big part of Turkey’s recent success (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

Burly striker Yilmaz is 35 but showed the energy of a player half his age last season. Yilmaz scored 16 goals to inspire Lille to unlikely Ligue 1 glory and grabbed a hat-trick against Holland in World Cup qualifying. Celik and Yusuf Yazici, who scored 14 goals from midfield last season, also shone in Lille’s title success. AC Milan playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu created the most chances in Serie A during 2020-21 and provides midfield creativity. Leicester pair Caglar Soyuncu and Cengiz Under, and Ozan Kabak and Okay Yokuslu – who had respective loan spells at Liverpool and West Brom last term – are well known to Premier League fans.