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Spain v Turkey: Thiago hails holders´ strength in depth

Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara highlighted the European champions’ formidable strength in depth ahead of their second Euro 2016 Group D clash with Turkey.

Winners of the last two editions of tournament, Spain began their campaign in France with a 1-0 victory over Czech Republic on Monday, courtesy of a late header from Gerard Pique.

Vicente del Bosque’s side dominated proceedings in Toulouse but it took a superb cross from Andres Iniesta – who produced a masterful display throughout – to unlock a stubborn defence that kept supply lines to forwards Alvaro Morata and Aritz Aduriz limited.

Much of the subsequent praise has centred on Iniesta’s performance but Thiago, a substitute in that game, insists the squad boasts an overall strength which gives them a great chance of beating Turkey in Nice – and going far in the knockout stages.

“The most important thing was to get off to a winning start, and we did,” he said. “We’re not just one or two players, we’re a group. There’s an extraordinary group of players here and we want to win the Euros.

“Spain have won three out of four major tournaments. We have good defenders and a lot players that are eager to contribute. We’re going to go out there to give our all and try to win.”

Turkey suffered defeat to Croatia in their opening match thanks to a stunning Luka Modric volley which sealed maximum points.

Midfielder Ozan Tufan has borne the brunt of criticism in his homeland for that result, after seeming to smooth his hair as he jogged out of the penalty area just before Modric let fly with the winning goal.

The 21-year-old has hit back at his detractors, however, insisting he and the rest of Fatih Terim’s side are prepared to fight for a crucial result.

“We are here to represent our country, we all fight for this flag,” said Tufan. “Everyone is red and white, so to what extent is it right to connect a defeat to a single player?

“The bad start has damaged all of us, because we really wanted to win. Now we have a very important game. We all need the support.”

Gokhan Gonul and Mehmet Topal are slight doubts after being forced to sit out training early this week with respective stomach and muscle complaints, but Spain boast a clean bill of health for the meeting on the south coast.

Hakan Balta, Volkan Sen and Cenk Tosun would all incur a one-game ban should they pick up a booking.


Key Opta Stats:

– This will be the first time that Spain have faced Turkey in the finals of a major tournament.
– Spain are unbeaten in their last 13 games at the European Championships (W10 D3), the longest run in the history of the competition. Their last defeat in the tournament dates back to June 2004 against Portugal (0-1).
– Spain haven’t conceded a single goal in their last 600 minutes at the European Championships, the longest run in the history of the tournament.
– Turkey have won only three of their 13 games at the European Championships (D2 L8). They’ve also only kept two clean sheets in those 13 games.
– Andres Iniesta delivered his fourth assist in the Euros by setting up Gerard Pique against the Czech Republic, the joint-most for Spain alongside Cesc Fabregas and David Silva.

Wed 15 Jun, 2016
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