Reigning Euro champions Spain will be looking to maintain their unbeaten run as they take on Turkey at the Stade de Nice for their second group stage match.
La Furia Roja, who are on a 13 match unbeaten streak, last lost a game back at Euro 2004 to Portugal. Since then, Spain have won the last two editions and are hoping to make it an unprecedented third this July. Vincente Del Bosque’s men will be coming into this match off a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic. Whilst they did not have it easy, midfield maestro Andres Iniesta set up Gerard Pique for the very late game-winner with a perfectly executed pass. And at the end of the day, three points are three points.
Of all the players, one had unfortunately generated quite a bit of negative buzz prior to the match: David De Gea. However, any worries about his state of mind were alleviated as he put in a solid shift to ensure he will likely start ahead of captain Iker Casillas. In terms of any other concerns, Del Bosque should have everyone available, but it will be very interesting to see who he opts to start up front.
A venture into using a “traditional” striker proved fruitless. Although talented, Alvaro Morata is very inexperienced at this level, and his naivete was on full display against the Czech Republic. The other “pure” striker, 35-year-old Aritz Aduriz, also seemed out of his element as it was a defender who got the go-ahead goal for Spain.
Still, despite their struggles, Spain are still a major favorite to win it all this July. For starters, La Furia Roja, in addition to their impressive unbeaten streak, have gone a whopping 600 minutes without conceding. This is the longest run in this competition’s entire history. In addition, they will be taking on a Turkey side who have won only three of their 13 games, whilst losing eight and drawing just twice. Furthermore, the reigning champions have conceded just once in their past six meetings with the Crescent-Stars.
Turkey have also managed to keep clean sheets in only two of those 13 fixtures. As for their head-to-head record with Spain, if one is a Turkey fan, it’s best to look a way now. As of now, they have only won one out of their past 10 matches with Spain, whilst losing five and drawing four.
And the last time they won? Try going back to March 14, 1954, when they beat them 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier. Not exactly encouraging reading for a team needing to rebound after a 1-0 loss to Croatia.
One player who will be feeling the pressure will be Barcelona’s Arda Turan. The versatile midfielder was simply poor against Croatia and he will need to have a big game against some of his colleagues if Turkey want to have any remote chance at getting anything out of this game.
Interestingly enough, this will be the first competitive meeting between Spain and Turkey. Spain, of course, will try to pass the opposition until they break down. Turkey, naturally, will be desperate for a point ahead of their game with the Czech Republic. Will they pick up their first win? Or will Spain march on to the round of 16 in their quest for a third straight Euro title?