Date: 12th June 2016 at 8:00am
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Fatih Terim’s side open their European Championship campaign against Croatia on Sunday, having not qualified back in 2012.

This will in fact be Turkey’s first appearance at any major tournament for eight years having only secured their place late on by winning four of their remaining five qualifying matches.

Having come back into the role as manager, Terim was also at the helm in 2008 where Turkey reached the semi-finals having beaten Croatia on penalties in the last-eight.

Despite a one-point deduction for unsavory scenes on the terraces against Italy, Croatia qualified for the tournament having lost just one game in their group and built upon a solid defence that conceded just five goals en route to France.

Sunday sees a return to the scene of the countries greatest footballing achievement as the Parc de Princes was where Croatia defeated the Dutch back in the 1998 World Cup to finish third.

Coming into the game, Croatia have not lost since September and demolished San Marino 10-0 in their last outing.

Many feel the current group of players have the potential to be the best ever Croatia side with the likes of Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic all playing at the very top end of European club football for FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus respectively.

Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

Barcelona’s Rakitic is tipped to star for Croatia at EURO 2016 this summer – Photo: Marc Atkins / Offside.

Ante Cacic’s men managed to pick up three red cards en route to the finals and with only six teams amassing more cards than Turkey, Sunday’s clash has the potential to be a physical affair.

Turkey did manage to score first in nine of their 10 qualifying games, so they have the potential to start well. Croatia may however take comfort in the fact that Turkey have lost all three of their previous opening games at European tournaments.

Team News:

Both sides are expected to start with a lone striker.

Turkey will have concerns over the match fitness of Burak Yilmaz having only recently returned from an injury, although he is likely to start ahead of Besiktas striker Cenk Tosun.

Yilmaz will be supported by Arda Turan and Hakan Calhanoglu on the flanks, who will be crucial to any success Turkey have at the tournament.

Croatia have no fresh injury concerns coming in to Sunday’s game. Mandzukic will lead the line in their favoured 4-3-2-1 formation supported by Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Perisic, with Modric and Rakitic accompanied by Fiorentina’s Milan Badelj.

FIFA World Ranking Turkey – 18th; Croatia -27th
Previous meeting – Croatia 3-0 Turkey (On aggregate) – EURO 2012 Play off
Form: Croatia – WWDWW; Turkey – WWLWW
Key Men: Croatia – Ivan Rakitic; Turkey – Hakan Calhanoglu
Shoot Says: Turkey 1-2 Croatia

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