Turkey VS Latvia, a comfortable win for the hosts

Posted Tue, 30 Mar 2021 08:48:22 GMT        

Match Time:3/31/2021 02:45 Wednesday  (GMT+8)

FIFA World Cup qualification (UEFA) --  Turkey   VS   Latvia

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After marking themselves out as contenders for top spot in World Cup Qualifying Group G with spectacular back-to-back wins, Turkey seek to continue their impressive start to the campaign against lowly Latvia on Tuesday evening.  

 

While the hosts were storming towards six points from six last time out, their 136th-ranked visitors were fortunate to lose only 2-0 to the Netherlands and remain pointless in a particularly challenging section.  

 

Match preview 

 

Perhaps starting to fulfil the potential of a talented generation, Turkey continued their scintillating start to qualification for Qatar 2022 on Saturday, with a clinical 3-0 win over Norway in the unfamiliar surrounds of Malaga's Estadio La Rosaleda.   

 

Following Ozan Tufan's opener within the first five minutes, Leicester City centre-back Caglar Soyuncu doubled Turkey's lead by heading in from the first corner kick of the game.  

 

With Tufan's second of the afternoon - an unstoppable curled effort from the edge of the Norwegian box - then sealing the deal in the second half, the side currently coached by Senol Gunes have now won their first two World Cup qualifiers of a campaign for the first time.  

 

Gunes, of course, previously led his nation to their finest hour on the international stage - when they reached the final four of the 2002 World Cup, ultimately finishing third.  

 

Having been awarded the title of UEFA Coach of the Year as a result, his pedigree at international level was undoubted when taking up the reigns again some 15 years later, but results had been mixed before last week's headline-grabbing 4-2 defeat of the Netherlands.  

 

The former Besiktas and FC Seoul manager now has a number of reliable performers, such as Soyuncu, Milan playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu and hat-trick hero against the Dutch, experienced goal-poacher Burak Yilmaz, to build around, as he seeks to lead his country back to a global finals for the first time since that golden month in the Far East nearly two decades ago.  

Aiming to take the only guaranteed qualification place by winning Group G outright, the Crescent-Stars have now lost only three of their last 23 matches, having also ended a winless streak of four on their travels at the weekend.  

 

A matter of weeks before they take part in the delayed Euro 2020, few would deny that the fanatically-supported nation have a strong chance of improving their prospects of progress with a third win on the bounce this Tuesday. 

 

A wonderful Steven Berghuis strike from long range was scant reward for Holland's dominant first-half display against Latvia, in what ultimately proved to be a second straight qualifying defeat for the modest Baltic nation.   

 

The final 2-0 scoreline in a sparsely-attended Johan Cruijff ArenA barely did justice to the Oranje's superiority on Saturday, as they laid siege to the Latvian goal - also rattling the woodwork on more than one occasion.  

Having lost more narrowly to Montenegro in their opening fixture of the campaign - despite also conceding the vast majority of possession and numerous attempts on goal - Latvia remain without a point so far, ahead of one of their toughest tasks in the group, in Istanbul.  

 

Due to the level playing field provided by the Nations League format, that loss at home to the Montenegrins was only their second defeat from nine matches since the start of last year.  

 

The team coached by former Under-21s boss Dainis Kazakevics had managed to previously record successive victories over San Marino and Andorra, but are once again suffering when faced by opponents of a finer pedigree.  

 

Those rare back-to-back triumphs represent the only wins posted from their last 25 outings outside of Riga - indicating the sheer size of the challenge which awaits them versus an increasingly self-assured Turkish team.  

 

Turkey World Cup Qualifying - Europe form: WW 

Turkey form (all competitions): DDWLWW 

Latvia World Cup Qualifying - Europe form: LL 

Latvia form (all competitions): DLDWLL 

 

Team News

 

Having fielded virtually full-strength lineups against two of their biggest challengers for group supremacy, Turkey could rotate their resources somewhat for their third competitive match in a week.  

 

Though Senol Gunes is without Leicester City forward Cengiz Under this month, Yusuf Yazici has deputised well in support of chief goal threat Burak Yilmaz, though both the Lille man and his veteran skipper may be rested on Tuesday.  

 

Gunes certainly has a healthy array of attacking options, so Cenk Tosun and Enes Unal could both be given the opportunity to impress this time out.  Promising Juventus defender Merih Demiral did not feature in either of the first two games and failed to even make the trip to Spain at the weekend, but could come into consideration if passed fit before kickoff.  

 

Right-back Zeki Celik also missed the Norway game due to injury, while Liverpool defender Ozan Kabak only featured as a substitute due to illness, but will start if Demiral remains absent. Sassuolo duo Kaan Ayhan and Mert Muldur are also set to continue in the back four for the hosts.  

 

Meanwhile, the visitors' Elvis Stuglis was forced to pull out of the squad before their opening game, while Vladislavs Gutkovskis and Kaspars Dubra also reported injuries and have been ruled out.  

 

Despite conceding twice more on Saturday, Latvia did well to keep the score down against a rampant Netherlands side, so another start for Dundalk's Raivis Jurkovskis at left-back is on the cards, while goalkeeper Roberts Ozols came into the XI in Amsterdam and made a number of saves in just his fifth start.  

 

Forward Davis Ikaunieks is vying for a place alongside his brother, playmaker Janis Ikaunieks, in the starting lineup, though Swiss Super League striker Roberts Uldrikis is favourite to keep his place up front.  

 

Turkey possible starting lineup: 

 

Cakir; Muldur, Kabak, Ayhan, Erkin; Yazici, Tufan, Antalyali, Karaman; Unal, Tosun  

 

Latvia possible starting lineup: 

 

Ozols; Savalnieks, Tarasovs, Cernomordijs, Jurkovskis; Jaunzems, Zjuzins, Tobers, Ciganiks; J. Ikaunieks; Uldrikis    

 

Turkey 3-0 Latvia

 Turkey VS Latvia, a comfortable win for the hosts