Group D dark horses Turkey and Croatia are set to battle one another in the opening match of their respective 2016 UEFA European Championship campaigns to be held at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Sunday, June 12.
Turkey returns to the Euros since their last participation in 2008 and the team is hoping that they can replicate their semifinal finish during the said year. The Crescent Stars will still be managed by head coach Fatih Terim this summer and expectations run high for the fans and supporters of the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup third placers.


The team is deep at the midfield with some of the best free kick shooters in the world, Bayer Leverkusen’s Hakan Calhanoglu, Barcelona’s Arda Turan, and Galatasaray’s Selcik Inan. They also have a reliable frontline with Beijing Guoan striker Burak Yılmaz in the middle and two Borussia Dortmund stalwarts in his left and right sides with Nuri Sahin and 18-year-old Emre Mor.
Ay-Yıldızlılar edged out Turkey, 1-0, in their Euro send-off on Monday at the Stadion Stožice in Ljubljana, as per USA Today, with Yilmaz scoring the winning goal right inside the five-minute mark off an assist by Calhanoglu.
Meanwhile, Croatia is also a competitive team in the group with an even stronger midfield than that of Turkey on paper.
Head coach Ante Cacic has in his disposal the likes of Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic, Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic, and Fiorentina’s Milan Badelj in a star-studded midfield cast. His only problem would be how to balance the playing time of these club superstars.
The frontline is also as deep as the midfield with Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic leading the charge. The team also has Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic, Hoffenheim’s Andrej Kramaric, and Malaga’s Duje Cop, all top scorers with their respective clubs.
Vatreni demolished San Marino in their Euro warmup last Sunday, 10-0, at the Nogometno igralište Rujevica in Rijeka, Croatia as Mandzukic and Kalinic both scored hat tricks during the match, via Goal.
This is a tough game to call as both Turkey and Croatia boasts All-Star lineups. Defense will be a key factor for both sides, though, as it may be the side of the pitch that the two squads are not known for.
The predicted result is a tough 2-1 win for Croatia.
Turkey starting lineup (4-1-4-1 formation): Babacan; Gonul, Topal, Balta, Erkin; Inan; Calhanoglu, Tufan, Ozyakup, Turan; Yilmaz
Croatia starting lineup (4-2-3-1 formation): Subasic; Srna, Vida, Schildenfeld, Strinic; Modric, Badelj; Pjaca, Rakitic, Perisic; Mandzukic