Final Countdown: Croatia Plays its First EURO 2016 Game Against Turkey Today

They are well-known rivals, but much has changed since their last showdown. Get your Turkish coffee and burek ready, the game kicks off at 3 PM.

June 12, 2016, is the day Croatian football fans have been waiting for. Everything else, including politics, foreign debt, corruption and which political party official is calling a press conference becomes completely irrelevant because this day is all about football. Croatian national team will face Turkey in Paris at the EURO 2016 championship starting at 3 PM, and even those not supporting the team will be watching.

According to reports, there is no festive atmosphere surrounding Croatian fans in Paris yet, as a lot of them have decided to stay home for this tournament, but undoubtedly, the support will be loud at the Parc au Princes today. Turkish supporters will be stronger in numbers for sure, but Croatians tend to be louder when the going gets tough.

A word about the team, as reports by the football pundits say that coach Čačić has decided to start in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Ćorluka and Vida as centre-backs, Srna on the right, and Strinić on the left side. Modrić should be joined by Badelj as defensive midfielders, Perišić on the left attacking side, Brozović on the right, Rakitić in the middle, and Mandžukić will be a point man for the team.

This is not official, but even though pundits are sure about the starting eleven for Croatia, we doubt that Čačić will start with this much caution. We would expect Brozović as a defensive midfielder, and Pjaca on the side, and even Vrsaljko at the left side instead of Strinić. We will wait and see Čačić’s choice in just a few hours now.

The first match at the big tournaments is usually the most important one, and with this new tournament format, it is even more important, as it is possible to go trough group stage with a single win. In the history of Croatian appearances at the big tournaments, the team never went trough to the knockout stage when failing to win the opening match. To be fair we have to say they did not go trough when they  opened the tournament with a win on just one occasion, back in 2012, but their group opponents then were Italy and Spain, so there is no big surprise there.

The history of the two teams meeting today is long. Croatia's first ever appearance on the big stage was in the 1996 EURO in England, and the first opponent ever was Turkey. Croatia won 1-0 with Vlaović breaking away from Turkish defense and scoring the winner at a late stage of the match, and Turkish defender Alpay getting the fair play award for not fouling him at the occasion.

The second meeting was painful for Croatia, in the Vienna battle, when Croatians were already celebrating the win minute before the end, and Senturk broke their dreams in the stoppage time of the extra time. Croatian team has played the best football ever, and even today, the fans feel the pain when they think about this one particular game.

If one were to predict the outcome of the match, it would be a tough task as both teams are quite unpredictable. The French police have marked this game as a high-risk one, but we are sure there will be no problems between two supporting groups. The only risk is coming from those who will protest against the Croatian Football Federation, but that is another story.
Kickoff is scheduled for 15.00 CET, and TCN will bring you the full report after the game.