Our match prediction:
Turkey are preparing for the beginning of the new cycle following their disappointing Euro 2016 campaign which ended in group stage elimination. One match away from the beginning of the World Cup 2018 qualifiers, Turkey will go head to head with the tournament’s hosts Russia with a much-changed line-up. Selcun Inan, Gokhan Gonul, Hakan Balta, Caner Erkin and Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan were all left out of the squad for Russia friendly and Croatia in the first qualifying game for the 2018 World Cup. Arda Turan was whistled at Euro 2016 by Turkey fans who thought the Barcelona winger’s performances were below-par and head coach Fatih Terim decided to wield the axe in response. World Cup hosts Russia had a difficult Euro 2016 campaign as well. Having crashed out of the competition in group stage, Russia Football Union replaced CSKA Moscow coach Leonid Slutsky with former Legia Warsaw boss Stanislav Cherchesov, who now faces a daunting task of leading the team forward. Russia’s trip to Turkey will be a first challenge for the new manager and we predict that Cherchesov will be in for a tough time in his first match in charge.
Highligted Player (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 (Russia):
While they won the 1960 European Championship, while losing in the final in 1964, 1972 and 1988 as Soviet Union, Russia have enjoyed little success since starting to compete as an independent country in 1992. Their best result up to date is the third-placed finish at the Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, while the team failed to get past the group stage at the World Cup finals in three attempts. However, with Russian Premier League getting stronger by the day, the national team have started to improve as well, and they now finally seem capable of matching the world’s top sides. The new generation includes high-quality footballers such as Alan Dzagoev, Aleksandr Kokorin, Artyom Dzyuba and Oleg Shatov, while the likes of Igor Akinfeev, Sergei Ignashevich, Roman Shirokov and Yuri Zhirkov are nearing the closing stages of their careers. But, with plenty of exciting talent coming through the ranks, future definitely looks bright for the Russia national team.