MX23RW : Sunday, June 20 09:44:37| >> :60:401:401:
Jun 3, 2021 at 6pm UK at TBC
Yilmaz (58'), Under (77')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Damascan (39')

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

Sports Mole previews Thursday's International Friendly clash between Turkey and Moldova, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Turkey conclude their preparations for Euro 2020 on Thursday, as they meet Moldova at Paderborn's Benteler-Arena.

The two nations convene in Germany, with the Turkish team considered dark horses at the upcoming continental championships and their opponents still struggling to make a mark on the international stage.

Match preview

Turkey manager Senol Gunes pictured on November 15, 2020© Reuters

Since they came together in their post-season training camp, Turkey have already undertaken two of three preparatory friendlies ahead of their journey to Rome, to meet Italy in their opening game of the Euros.

Having previously beaten neighbouring Azerbaijan 2-1 in Alanya earlier this week, veteran manager Senol Gunes saw his side's scheduled fixture with Northern Ireland cancelled due to travel restrictions, while another was hastily arranged against Guinea on Monday. A goalless draw with the West African nation presented Gunes with an opportunity to assess some fringe members of his 26-man squad, as they tune up for stiffer tests in the coming weeks.

Now representing the final opportunity to impress their coach - who led the Crescent-Stars to third place in the 2002 World Cup - ahead of the summer's rescheduled Championships, this Thursday's game could help several members of a talented selection nail down starting spots for their big night at Stadio Olimpico.

Having qualified with relative ease, Turkey are preparing for a tough Group A challenge, with Wales and Switzerland the other nations battling it out to advance to the knockout phase. Undoubtedly, then, they will want to maintain their fine form of recent months by avoiding defeat to minnows Moldova in their final warm-up.

In fact, Turkey have suffered only three losses in their last 25 games in all competitions after getting their Qatar 2022 qualifying campaign off to a flying start earlier this spring.

Gunes and company certainly made the world sit up and notice with a 4-2 victory over the Netherlands in Istanbul to start proceedings, as veteran striker Burak Yilmaz - now a Ligue 1 champion with Lille - netted a hat-trick and Milan's Hakan Calhanoglu also found the target.

Taking a healthy total of seven points from their first three games to sit top of Group G will have delighted Turkey's legendarily passionate fans, who - particularly given the wealth of defensive talent at their team's disposal - are increasingly confident of enjoying a successful summer.

Denmark's Lasse Schone in action with Moldova's Igor Armas Ritzau on March 28, 2021© Reuters

Moldova's last international fixture, meanwhile, was a 4-1 home defeat to Israel in their third World Cup qualifier at the end of March. The Eastern European nation had gone into that fixture thoroughly deflated after conceding eight versus Denmark just days before, and are now without a win in 16 attempts.

Former Napoli and Atalanta midfielder Roberto Bordin, who took over as coach just a few weeks previously, saw his side 5-0 down before the break against the Danes, before ultimately suffering the country's heaviest defeat on the international stage.

Currently ranked 177th in the world, Moldova may have realistically low expectations - given they have lost 43 of their 61 qualifiers since being established as an independent football nation (winning only five) - but are now at an all-time low ebb.

Having reached the dizzy heights of 37th in the world rankings back in 2008, they have failed to maintain that relatively lofty status and are expected only to battle gamely against defeat to Turkey.

Captain Alexandru Epureanu will encounter some familiar faces on Thursday, as the Istanbul Basaksehir stalwart was a Turkish Lig champion just last year, but quality is otherwise in short supply throughout a modest Moldova squad.

To conclude a so far forgettable 2020-21 season, Bordin's side next meet Azerbaijan in Chisinau, where the chances of success will be significantly higher for one of Europe's poorest relations.

Turkey International Friendlies form:
  • W
  • D

Turkey form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D

Moldova form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L

Team News

Juventus and Turkey defender Merih Demiral pictured on international duty in November 2019© Reuters

After being rested on Monday, Juventus centre-back Merih Demiral may return to Turkey's defence, alongside Leicester City's Caglar Soyuncu.

Coach Senol Gunes is, though, blessed with several promising options to make up his rearguard, with right-back Zeki Celik excelling in Lille's Ligue 1 title triumph and others such as Liverpool loanee Ozan Kabak, Mert Muldur and Sassuolo's Kaan Ayhan to consider.

Striker Cenk Tosun was previously ruled out of this summer's action with a serious knee injury, so either Burak Yilmaz or Kenan Karaman are most likely to lead the line in Paderborn, as Enes Unal started against Guinea.

Up front for Moldova, meanwhile, forward Ion Nicolaescu - who scored his second international goal against the Faroe Islands in March, but was then sent off versus Israel - is expected to plough a lone furrow.

Meanwhile, Turkey-based centre-back Alexandru Epureanu won his 100th international cap last time out and is again set to partner Igor Armas in the heart of the defence.

Artur Ionita - recently relegated from Serie A with Benevento - is a key man in the Moldova engine room, so Roberto Bordin will hope to have the 30-year-old midfielder available following a late-season knee sprain.

Turkey possible starting lineup:
Cakir; Celik, Soyuncu, Demiral, R. Yilmaz; Kokcu, Tufan, Yokuslu, Akturkoglu; Karaman, B. Yilmaz

Moldova possible starting lineup:
Namasco; Jardan, Epureanu, Armas, Reabciuk; Carp; Rata, Ionita; Cojocari; Damascan, Nicolaescu

SM words green background

We say: Turkey 3-0 Moldova

With Moldova finding the net only twice in their last ten matches, they face an uphill struggle to score on Thursday, as this latest Turkey team prides itself not only on traditional flair but also defensive steel.

The Crescent-Stars can, therefore, set off on a potentially reputation-defining month of action by cruising to a final friendly win, before journeying on to meet their destiny in Rome.

Top tip

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