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Preview: Turkey vs. France - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Euro 2020 qualifier between Turkey and France, including team news and predicted lineups.

Both Turkey and France will be looking to keep their 100% records alive in Group H when they lock horns in Saturday night's Euro 2020 qualifier at the Konya Buyuksehir Stadium.

Turkey have beaten Albania and Moldova in their two group fixtures thus far, while France have overcome Moldova and Iceland to also collect six points from an available six.


Turkey forward Cenk Tosun in action against Moldova in their Euro 2020 qualifier in March 2019© Reuters

Senol Gunes - in charge of the Turkish national team for the second time - has overseen four wins from his four matches since returning as head coach. Indeed, the 67-year-old saw his team beat Albania and Moldova in their first two Euro 2020 qualification matches before friendly wins over Greece and Uzbekistan.

France are, undoubtedly, the favourites to win Group H but a strong result for Turkey in this match would certainly make things very interesting. The Crescent-Stars have enjoyed some recent success in the European Championships, reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2000 and semi-finals of Euro 2008.

Turkey failed to qualify for Euro 2012 but were at the 2016 competition, exiting in the group stages. It has been a disappointing few years considering that they have not actually been present at the finals of a World Cup since 2002, which is too long for a nation that has produced a number of brilliant footballers.

It would be fair to say that Gunes's team lack real experience and quality at the back, but that is certainly not the case further forward. Former Newcastle United midfielder Emre Belozoglu could win his 100th cap against France, while Oguzhan Ozyakup, Hakan Calhanoglu and Cengiz Under are all brilliant midfielders.

Burak Yilmaz and Cenk Tosun are amongst the options in the final third of the field, with the former scoring 24 international goals and the latter 13. France are perhaps the best team in world football but the hosts certainly have players capable of harming Didier Deschamps's side on Saturday night.

In terms of what is ahead for Turkey, they will travel to Iceland in their next qualifier on June 11 before facing Andorra and Moldova in September. While a defeat to France would not be ideal, it would be far from the end of the world as there is still a lot of football to be played as teams bid to qualify for Euro 2020.

Turkey's success since Gunes returned has been built on a strong defence, while they have actually conceded just twice in their last six international matches. A lot of things would have to happen for the hosts to overcome France in this match, but they will enter the contest full of confidence.

Somewhat surprisingly, Saturday will bring just the sixth international fixture between the two teams. France have won each of the previous five, including their last clash in June 2009 by a single goal.

Recent form: WW
Recent form (all competitions): LDWWWW


Antoine Griezmann celebrates scoring for France on June 2, 2019© Reuters

France warmed up for Saturday's clash with Turkey by beating Bolivia 2-0 in a friendly last week. Thomas Lemar and Antoine Griezmann scored the goals for Deschamps's side, who will be looking to move onto nine points in Group H ahead of their trip to Andorra on June 11.

Les Bleus opened their Euro 2020 qualification campaign with a 4-1 win away to Moldova on March 22 before thumping Iceland 4-0 three days later. This will be easily their biggest test in the group but it would be a huge shock if the 2018 World Cup winners did not finish comfortably top of the section.

There is no question that France deserved to win their second World Cup in Russia last summer - they were the best team by some distance and could dominate for some time due to their incredible talent.

France have not actually won a European Championship title since 2000, however, falling at the quarter-final stage in 2004 and 2012, before finishing as runners-up in Euro 2016, where they lost to Portugal in the final. Ahead of the 2018 World Cup, there were certainly more than a few signs that Les Bleus were capable of dominating international football and they must be considered as the favourites for Euro 2020.

The 2-0 loss at Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League back in November 2018 is their only international defeat since March 2018. Indeed, Deschamps's side followed the two-goal reverse to Holland by overcoming Uruguay in a friendly ahead of their first two Euro 2020 qualification matches.

Aside from Hugo Lloris, Blaise Matuidi and Olivier Giroud, all of France's latest squad are under 30. Kylian Mbappe is perhaps the outstanding young attacker in world football but he is just one of a number of excellent players who can be called upon to represent the team ranked second in the FIFA rankings.

It will actually be the first time that France have travelled to Turkey for an international match since a friendly back in November 2000. The Blues won 4-0 on that occasion and have triumphed in each of the five previous meetings between the two European nations.

A defeat for Deschamps's side on Saturday night would be far from the end of the world. The World Cup holders will be keen to keep their momentum going, however, following four straight victories.

Recent form: WW
Recent form (all competitions): WLWWWW

Team News

France's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring their third goal against Moldova on March 22, 2019© Reuters

Yilmaz is again expected to lead the line for Turkey, who could also include Under, Tosun and Calhanoglu as part of a talented front four.

Okay Yokuslu missed the win over Uzbekistan last time out with a knee problem and the same injury is expected to rule the Celta Vigo midfielder out of this contest.

Leicester City's Caglar Soyuncu is also in the squad but the 23-year-old is expected to start on the bench.

France were without the services of captain Hugo Lloris against Bolivia due to the goalkeeper's involvement in the Champions League final. Lloris is available for this match, however, and should return between the sticks.

Olivier Giroud is also available for selection having been left out against Bolivia after representing Chelsea in the Europa League final. The experienced forward could start at the tip of an attack which should also include Griezmann and Mbappe.

Paul Pogba could again be joined by Tanguy Ndombele in the middle of the park, while Matuidi is also in line to feature as Deschamps could favour his experience over the likes of Lemar and Kingsley Coman.

Clement Lenglet is also an option for the visitors having recovered from illness.

Turkey possible starting lineup:
Gunok; Kaldirim, Demiral, Ayhan, Celik; Tekdemir, Tokoz; Tosun, Calhanoglu, Under; Yilmaz

France possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Digne; Ndombele, Pogba; Matuidi, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud

Head To Head

Saturday will be the sixth international meeting between these two teams. France have won each of the previous five, including a 1-0 victory in their last clash in June 2009.

Their last competitive meeting came in the FIFA Confederations Cup back in June 2003, with Les Bleus running out 3-2 winners.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Turkey 1-2 France

There is no question that Turkey are capable of taking points off France on Saturday night. However, we just fancy Deschamps's side to shade a close contest due to their quality in the final third of the field.

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Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring France's first goal against Netherlands with Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann on September 9, 2018
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