Are Turkey dark horses for Euro success?
Chatting to some Turkish soccer journalists on Wednesday before the news conference with Nihat Kahveci and Hakan Balta, I got the sense they felt Turkey had some fine young attacking players and a lot of potential but could be fatally weakened at Euro 2008 by a dodgy back line.
“I’m a realist,” said Mutluhan Suner from the Kanalturk private television broadcaster.
“It’s not a bad team but their biggest problem is defence. The backs are not very good and they’ll have to take the game to the opponents to have any chance at all.
“I think Turkey will only take one or two points from the group stage and that won’t be enough.”
Altan Tanrikulu from Hurriyet newspaper said Turkey were worryingly erratic and predicted they would be able to make the semi-finals at best.
Coach Fatih Terim’s surprise decision to leave out VfB Stuttgart midfielder Yildiray Basturk was down to a personality clash that had been simmering for several years, he said. “It was a big mistake not to pick him.”
Milliyet newspaper correspondent Mehmet Demirkol disagreed, saying it was part of Terim’s bid to stamp his authority on the squad.
“He wanted to make the team his own, that’s the way he works,” he said, picking out young forward Mevlut Erdinc as a potential standout player of the tournament.
“He’s a striker but Terim uses him like a right winger and he’s strong on the ball and very fast,” he said.
What are your thoughts? Will Turkey be able to reproduce the form that won them third place at the 2002 World Cup or will they fall at the group stage?