Our prediction for this Euro 2024 match:
All eyes will be on Opus Arena when Croatia and Turkey square off against each other in the Group D derby. Top position in the standings is at stake, but Luka Modric and Co. are seen as favourites to win Thursday’s encounter. Hajduk Split attacker Marko Livaja has retired from international football following his fight with boss Zlatko Dalic, while Dinamo Zagreb forward Bruno Petkovic has been ruled out with injury. Man City star midfielder Mateo Kovacic made the cut.
The Turks, on the other hand, will be without suspended defender Merih Demiral in the Opus Arena showdown and given their poor performance in a 1-1 draw with Armenia, home win should be considered. When the two teams met in Istanbul earlier in the process Croatia defeated Turkey 2-0. As always, a man to keep an eye on in the away team will be Inter midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu.
Highlighted Player (Hakan Calhanoglu):
Hakan Calhanoglu is another one in the long line of Turkish footballers who were born in Germany, so it is hardly surprising he came to prominence thanks to his performances in Bundesliga. The attacking midfielder with great vision and very good goalscoring record started his professional career at Karlsruher, scoring impressive 17 goals in 50 league outings to earn a move to Bundesliga side Hamburg.
The spell at Imtech Arena was merely a stepping stone for bigger things as 11 goals in his debut top flight campaign persuaded Bayer Leverkusen to splash nearly €15 million on his services. That proved a very good investment as Calhanoglu continued the rich vein of form, and it is now a matter of time before he joins one of European powerhouses.
The midfield maestro had a bright start to his career in the Turkey national team, scoring 5 goals in first 16 caps, and chances are he will become a leader for Milli Takim in the foreseeable future.
Highlighted Team (Croatia):
While the national football team of Croatia also played international matches between 1940 and 1944, they only resumed their duties in 1990 after the country gained independence from Yugoslavia. Vatreni enjoyed a remarkable start on the international stage, winning the third place on their first ever World Cup appearance in France in 1998, while crashing out in the group stage at the 2002, 2006 and 2014 tournaments.
Croatia also reached the quarter-finals at the 1996 and 2008 European Championships, proving they are rightly considered one of Europe’s top sides at the start of the 21st century. Long-serving captain Darijo Srna is their most capped player with over 130 appearances for the national team, whereas former Real Madrid striker Davor Suker is one of their most famous players and top scorer with 45 goals.
Other notable footballers to have played for Croatia include Luka Modric, Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinecki, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic. Miroslav Blazevic and Slaven Bilic are the coaches that have been behind team’s biggest success stories up to date.