Best Odds: 5/2
Croatia travel to Turkey looking to extend their lead at the summit of Group I but their hosts will be determined to get back up on their feet after the frustrating loss to Ukraine which has almost crushed all Turkish hopes of reaching the World Cup in Russia.
With Euro 2016 disappointment still echoing loud, Turkey headed into the World Cup qualifiers with a renewed hope they will make it to the showpiece tournament in Russia next year. And with the new head coach Mircea Lucescu at the helm, Turkish fans expected an immediate improvement for help them go past the Euro 2016 group stage elimination. However, the Turkish team opened the World Cup qualifiers with back to back draws against Croatia and Ukraine, before losing at Iceland which was not the beginning anyone in the country hoped for. The team did show some improvement however with consecutive wins over Kosovo and Finland, but the latest 2-0 blow at the hands of Ukraine came as a huge disappointment for Lucescu’s men. Andriy Yarmolenko’s first-half brace was all Ukraine needed to wrap up an important victory over an impotent Turkish side which left them in fourth place in the standings, huge five points behind Croatia. A win might not do the trick for Turkish side after all but Lucescu’s men are obliged to give their best shot and rejoin the fight for second place with only three games to go.
Mircea Lucescu will have all of his players at disposal and could opt to go with a tactical change and include both AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu and Barcelona’s Arda Turan in the starting line-up.
It would be an understatement to say Croatia are disappointed with FIFA after their Kosovo qualifier. Having been extended over two days due to heavy rain that struck Zagreb, the most recent match created plenty of anger within the Croatia camp as the players were forced to play for two days in the most unfavourable conditions. The Kosovo match was suspended after 22 minutes due to a downpour at the Maksimir Stadium, but Croatia eventually emerged victorious a day later thanks to Domagoj Vida who lifted the clouds of despair for the hosts. Vida headed home Luka Modric’s cross in the 74th minute of the game for a winner that propelled Croatia top of the group again with two points in front of Ukraine. Ante Cacic’s men are determined to make another big step towards the World Cup in Russia and that’s exactly what three points at Turkey would provide. The Croats are a quality side with top-name players who have plenty of international experience having played together on two European Championships and one World Cup already. The tournament in Russia would be a great opportunity for Croatia to put their Euro 2016 disappointment behind them. The Croats were eliminated in the round of last 16 at the hands of future champions Portugal after extra-time and they will be keen to try and make a step forward at the even bigger stage next year.
Croatia head coach is likely to field the unchanged side with Real Madrid midfield duo Mateo Kovacic and Luka Modric orchestrating the play at the centre of the pitch.
Nikola Kalinic could replace marcelo Brozovic at the right wing, but no big changes are expected for the Tuesday game.
Key Factors to Consider
- Turkey have gone 5 straight matches without a draw
- Croatia have either lost or won their 6 consecutive games
- There has been under 2.5 goals in Croatia’s last 5 qualifiers
- Croatia conceded only 2 goals in seven matches
- Turkey last lost a home game in 2014
It all indicates the match at Yeni Eskisehir Stadyumu is going to be a close-knit contest between two sides that have everything to fight for and everything to lose. It’s been a while since these two nations played a draw but given the match importance and most recent statistics a stalemate might be the likeliest outcome.
Best Odds: 5/2
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