Match Preview: Turkey ready for tough Euro opening test against Italy

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Turkey continued their training preparations on the eve of their Euro 2020 opener against Italy in Rome.

Turkey face Italy, Wales and Switzerland in Group A at the June 11-July 11 tournament and are led by captain Burak Yilmaz who played a key role in Lille winning their first French Ligue 1 title in 10 years this season.

On Thursday coach Senol Gunes, who oversaw Turkey’s 2002 World Cup campaign where they finished in an unexpected third-place finish, said it was a game the world was interested to see.

“It has a meaning for the players, and it has a meaning for the team and for me as well. I think this is going to be a game that people all over the world will be interested to see. We will not forget about representing our country and after such a game, a good result is going to make us so happy.”

Gunes also believes that having players such as midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu playing in the Italian Serie A with AC Milan, won’t give his side any advantages, while he praised Italy‘s collective team play.

“We have players who play in the Italian league, so they know how it functions here, they know the order of the teams and they know how they play here. But all these things, this is not going to make a big difference,”

“All I want is that we play together tomorrow, and I hope that they will play a collective game. I know that Italy‘s a team that play collectively very well and they have great individual talents as well,”

“If you look at their results, because they haven’t lost for a long time, you can say that they have been playing a very good team game. Even despite the changes in their squad, they’re playing really well.”

Turkey midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu and his coach Senol Gunes said before their opening Euro 2020 game against Italy that they hoped to progress from Group A with the Italians and face them again in the final.

Calhanoglu, who plays for AC Milan, said all the Turkey players were excited about playing in the tournament’s opening game in Rome on Friday.

“It’s a special match for all of us but especially for me because I will be playing against my teammates. We have been looking forward to this game for a long time and we hope to get at least one point,” he told a news conference on Thursday.

Gunes echoed Calhanoglu’s wish to meet Italy in the final.

“It will be a source of pride for us to beat Italy in the first game. We are not one of the favourites of the tournament as we arrive here but we would love to become a favourite,” Gunes said.

“I would love to reach the final and play it against Italy.”

Gunes is looking to repeat the success of Turkey’s 2002 World Cup campaign when he led them to an unexpected third-place finish.

“Our journey in international football really started with the 2002 World Cup semi-finals and everyone would love to win, but I’m sure we will continue to learn from this tournament,” he said.

Italy coach Roberto Mancini understands Turkish football following a spell as manager of Galatasaray.

“We know Italy’s strengths, but also their weaknesses. We are well aware of Italy’s prestige and tradition, qualifying for almost all these competitions,” he said.

“Nonetheless, it’ll be a hard-fought game, in all aspects, in technical, tactical and physical terms. I want to see the quality of my players on show.”

For the full Euro 2020 Special Report, please click here: Euro 2020