With all eyes on Group D, Turkey and Croatia took to the field to battle it out for three points in a tough group. The atmosphere set the bar for the players, the excitement from the stands charged the game into a rapid, high pressing encounter early on. It would be the latter who would come out on top, though, as they secured a 1-0 win.
A feisty start
The intensity of the game remained remarkably high throughout the first half, the game only momentarily stopping due to an excessive number of consecutive fouls within the first twenty minutes. The first real chance of the game fell to Ivan Rakitic, when Darijo Srna’s ball from the wide area was flicked towards goal by a falling Rakitic, his effort went narrowly wide of the back post.
Turkey refused to defend against the threat that the Croatian’s created from the flanks. Minutes later, Ivan Perisic curled the ball in from the right on to the head of Marcelo Brozovic, whose header was lacking direction and power.
Brozovic was presented with another clear chance to score from his head in the next attack, a similar story for Turkey as they were deceived from the wide area’s once more. This time, Srna’s cross was again found by Brozovic. Unfortunately for the Croatian, his teammates efforts were no rewarded as he produced another poor headed finish.
Turkey were eager to give Croatia a taste of their own medicine shortly after Brozovic’s missed double. Gokhan Gonul executed a beautiful cross into the box in front of goal, after taking several Croatian defenders out of play, the ball looped in front of goal and onto the head of Ozan Tufan. The midfielder’s header was struck low, but lacked the power to fool Danijel Subasic after an utterly mesmerising ball from Gonul.
Modric steals the show
All of Turkey’s organisational efforts were undone, as Croatia took the lead moments before half time. The threat sprung once more from a wide area, Rakitic’s teasing cross from the left was cleared poorly by Hakan Balta in the box. His skied clearance was watched by Modric, all the way onto his boot as he cleanly struck the bottom of the ball with power.
The ball rocketed into the back of the Turkish net, with not much of a chance for Babacan, as the outrageous volleyed shot dipped and bounced from his reach. A spectacular goal by Real Madrid’s star central man, a goal fit for any major International competition.
A disappointing Turkish display
Turkey did not learn from their first half experiences it seemed, as Croatia came close to scoring twice early on in the second half. Croatia’s captain, Srna was the man producing the threat once more. Rakitic produced an audacious run from midfield to the edge of the box, the Barcelona midfielder fooled three Turks in the process, before his efforts were brought to a close by a strong challenge from Tufan on the edge of the box.
Srna stepped up to take the free kick, his curling effort struck the crossbar and went behind for a goal kick. The pressure was off Turkey for the moment, but Srna was back again minutes later. Next, Perisic beat his marker on the left flank, bursting free, he drove the ball low into the box superbly, Volkan Babacan parried the ball away, but only into the path of the wide man. Srna’s panicked shot was fired wide, despite having the time to line up his effort.
Turkey failed to defend the wide areas again, and the crossbar was left shaking again. Mario Mandzukic switched roles with his teammate, as his cross found Perisic in the box, whose header tapped the crossbar, Turkey are let off once more.
Same story for Turkey
The one sided affair finished at 1-0, Modric's strike made the difference, a strike worthy of winning any contest. Turkey lose their fifth consecutive opening match of an International tournament, and will hope to revive their Euro 2016 plans as they take on the holders Spain, in Nice next week.