Croatia made a giant step towards the Euro 2012 finals by beating Turkey 3:0 in Istanbul, but the hosts cannot afford to relax just yet as they need to get the job done and secure another good result. Turkey will try everything in Zagreb, but they are missing several very important players, and are in poor spirits after the embarrassing defeat in Istanbul.
Amazing win in Turkey
Even if coach Slaven Bilic had a squad filled with talent and experience at his disposal, Croatia haven’t really impressed in the Euro 2012 qualifiers. Despite being placed in one of the weakest groups, the Croats couldn’t beat Greece to the first place in the group and had to settle for a place in the play-offs. However, even though they were considered to be underdogs in the clash with Turkey, Slaven Bilic’s men stood up to the occasion and produced a very mature performance to record a 3:0 win in the first leg. One may think that Croatia will not be looking to win the return leg after such a result, but that is not entirely the case as the Croats need to beat Turkey again in order to be second seeds in the Euro 2012 finals draw. That should be good enough incentive for the hosts to record another victory over weakened Turkey, although they will have to be wary of the opposition strikers, nevertheless.
Important defensive players Vedran Corluka and Tomislav Dujmovic are suspended, with Pranjic and Vukojevic likely to deputize.
Slim hope for Turkey
Despite boasting a very good squad and a world-class manager, Turkey experienced major problems in the Euro 2012 qualifiers, but, even so, nobody expected that they would be out of the play-off tie with Croatia after the first leg. The hosts did enjoy lion’s share of possession, but they were very vulnerable at the back, conceding the first goal just two minutes into the game and two more from set pieces. Guus Hiddink’s side have no choice but to try and create a surprise in Croatia, meaning that they are likely to attack the hosts from the off, although the absence of key players Turan, Emre and Balta could prove to be a big problem. Even without Arda Turan, the visitors should be able to create several chances in Croatia, and while I cannot see them winning this game, I certainly expect them to score at least one goal in Zagreb.
Arda Turan, Emre Belezoglu and Hakan Balta are suspended, whereas Giray Kacar is sidelined with injury.
Turkey have no choice but to go all guns blazing at Croatia, hoping that an early goal will upset the hosts and help keep the tie alive. The hosts, on the other hand, will have more than enough space to hit Turkey on the break, so I see both teams to score as the best option here.
Our prediction: Both teams to score
Odds: 2.00 (1/1)
Bookmaker: Paddy Power