Far-Fetched Friday: Turkey to Be Underdog Story of Euro 2021
By: Jake Lofgren
Turkey may not be an international football superpower, but Turkey is still home to one of the most populated countries in Europe. With a population around 82 million and a huge football fanbase, Turkey has been waiting for a new team to get excited about. Turkey missed the chance to shock the world last summer as the tournament was moved to summer of 2021. Although, this Turkey squad should be even more ready come 2021. Here are a few reasons why Turkey will be the team to look out for in EURO 2021.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday we look ahead to next summer's premier international tournament.
The current goalkeeper for Trabzonspor was heavily linked with a move this summer. Chelsea was in desperate need of a goalkeeper, and Cakir was a serious contender to be their new number 1. Although still at Trabzonspor, this tournament will be a perfect opportunity for him to prove himself and get a big move. Goalkeepers are usually much later bloomers than field positions, and at 24 years old, the time is now for him to break out.
Soyuncu had a breakout season with Leicester last year. After only one full season, he filled the hole Maguire left behind. Unfortunately, Soyuncu has faced injury issues at the start of this season. Fortunately, this tournament gives him an opportunity to establish himself as even more than just a Premier League team of the season candidate.
Calhanoglu has played a role in AC Milan's resurgence back to the top of Serie A. Hakan is known for his ability to take set pieces, which is pivotal for an underdog in a knockout tournament, especially for a team that has size at their advantage.
Not many players can handle any comparison to Messi, but so far, Under has done a decent job at it. Labeled "the Turkish Messi," Under is known for his creative and exciting ability on the ball. Having already played for Roma and now at Leicester on loan, Under will be the player Turkey looks to the most to make some magic happen. Although, the pressure won't solely be on him with several good defenders to back him up.
Tosun and Yilmaz are no longer in the primes of their careers, and Turkey would need a number 9 to find them some goals. Yazici should be that new option. So far for Lille in Ligue 1, he only has 3 goals and 2 assists in 11 games, but the Europa League has been a different story, bagging 6 goals in just 5 games.
Liverpool was heavily linked with Kabak this summer but the move never fully developed. Kabak currently plays for a sinking ship in Schalke, and if they were to go down, the tournament gives him another big chance to prove to a team like Liverpool that he is ready.
The third center back listed and plays for the largest club. Demiral currently plays for Juventus. He is yet to make his impact on the first team, but a rebuild is inevitable at Juve, and they would be silly not to include the 22-year-old in that process.
The EUROs Loves an Underdog
Two out of the past four winners are Greece and Portugal. Greece was a crazy story, and realistically should never be a country that wins something like the EUROs. Portugal does have Ronaldo, but besides that, the team they won the EUROs with was remarkably average. These two teams are proof that the EUROs can be won by anyone. Portugal actually only finished third in their group, barely making the knockout stages, but still did and found a way to keep playing. The knockout stages are a crapshoot, but you have to give yourself a chance by making it out of the group. Which shouldn't be a problem for Turkey, considering their group isn't anything to be scared of with Italy, Wales, and Switzerland.
The playstyle that is often seen in big tournaments isn't always the most attractive. Sure the EUROs and World Cup have some beautiful moments, but a lot of the games feature teams that are nervous and worked so hard to get there and don't want to go out to make a few mistakes. And that shows on the pitch when most games don't end up being very open or involve only a few goals. Winning a tournament like this depends on a lot of defensive fortitude.
Last EUROs, Portugal in the knockout stages, decided to play more defensive to make up for their leaky defense. They ended up playing relatively boring football, but with a little luck in penalties on their side, they continued to advance. Turkey is in a position where they have a great goalkeeper and multiple great defenders to defend very well. If they can take advantage of set pieces and knick a few goals, they could go on a run very similar to Portugal's.
Turkey's odds last year stood around 100-1 following the draw, and if Turkey were to win, this wouldn't be some Leicester City-like story. Even though people are talking about Mbappe's World Cup-winning France, the Belgian golden generations' last chance, or England's new golden generation, just remember that there are plenty of nations ready to spoil the party.
The year 2020 brought the entire world chaos, let alone the sports world, but who is to say 2021 couldn't be even crazier?