Sports Mole preview Saturday’s Nations League clash between Turkey and the Faroe Islands, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
Turkey and the Faroe Islands launch their UEFA Nations League campaign in Istanbul on Saturday night to get off to a good start in Group C1.
Both countries have switched leagues from the 2020-21 edition, with the hosts dropping out of League B and the visitors enjoying promotion from League D.
Turkey will be hoping the next internationals in June can usher in a new era after a disappointing last 12 months.
Stefan KuntzThe side were tagged as one of the dark horses of the 2020 European Championships last summer, but put up three hugely disappointing performances to exit bottom of the Group A tournament after scoring just one goal and losing the three tournament matches delayed.
Subsequently, Turkey enjoyed a successful qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar later this year, earning a place in the playoffs after finishing second in Group G behind the Netherlands.
However, their World Cup dreams ended with a 3-1 loss to Portugal in the playoff semi-finals in Porto in March, before losing to Euro 2020 winners Italy in a an international friendly on their last outing just over two months ago.
Following a tough last year, Turkey fell to 43rd in the FIFA World Rankings, while a disappointing comeback of just one win from six matches against Russia, Serbia and Hungary in the Nations League group B3 in 2020 saw them relegated to League C for that year’s edition.
Saturday’s meeting in Istanbul is the first of four Nations League fixtures between then and June 14, with games against Lithuania and Luxembourg to follow, in which Kuntz’s men are expected to restore some pride and win immediate promotion to the second level.
Meanwhile, despite being ranked 81 places below their hosts in the FIFA World Rankings, the Faroe Islands head to Istanbul as their equals in terms of Nations League rankings.
Hakan EricsonThe team squad may have endured a tough qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup in Group F, in which they recorded only four points against Moldova, Austria, Israel, Scotland and Denmark, but they head into this encounter looking to pick up where they left off in the 2020-21 Nations League.
Landsliðið enjoyed an unbeaten campaign in Group D1 against Malta, Latvia and Andorra, earning them an impressive promotion to face Turkey, Lithuania and Luxembourg over the coming weeks and months.
The visitors won’t be expected to pick up a result in Istanbul on Saturday, or top the group to win successive promotions, but Ericson’s side will certainly be keen to take points from their two other Group D1 opponents in order to retain their third-tier status.
The Faroes will therefore likely leave empty-handed this weekend, but with back-to-back home games with Luxembourg and Lithuania to follow, and a trip to the former to end the international quartet in June, Ericson will expect to his team will continue their fine run in the Nations League over the next two weeks.
Turkey form (all competitions):
Form of the Faroe Islands (all competitions):
Turkey will be deprived of the veteran striker’s services Burak Yilmaz for Saturday and beyond, with the 36-year-old having retired from international football following the playoff loss to Portugal in March.
Having been initially named in the 27-man squad, Umut Bozok was forced out of the squad for the next quartet of matches due to injury.
Premier League Defenders Caglar Soyuncu and Ozan Kabak should be part of a three-man defense alongside Atalanta centre-back Merih Demiralwhile the Inter Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu should dictate the procedure from midfield.
In the absence of Yilmaz in attack, Enes Unal should lead the line after scoring an impressive return of 16 goals and one assist in 37 La Liga appearances for Getafe in the 2021-22 campaign.
As for the visitors, Ericson is likely to opt for a 5-4-1 defensive setup in Istanbul, as he has done on many of his team’s previous daunting trips.
Captain Hallur Hansson could be associated with experience Solvi Vatnhamar in the engine room in midfield, with the duo boasting 126 caps between them.
Striker Klaemint Olsen has 44 appearances for his country to his name, and his 10 goals for the Faroe Islands is the nation’s joint record, along with the retired Rogvi Jacobsen.
Possible starting line-up for Turkey:
Cakir; Kabak, Demiral, Soyuncu; Celik, Ozcan, Calhanoglu, R Yilmaz; Under, Akturkoglu; Unale
Possible departure composition from the Faroe Islands:
Nielsen; Joensen, Faro, Askham, Nattestad, Davidsen; Agnarsson, S. Vatnhamar, Hansson, Bjartalio; Olsen
We say: Turkey 3-0 Faroe Islands
On paper, it looks like a routine win for Turkey against the Faroe Islands minnows.
The hosts may have endured a disappointing last 12 months, but they should possess a far superior quality on the day in Istanbul and should sail to a comfortable victory by a relatively wide margin.
For a data analysis of the most likely outcomes, scores and more for this match, please click here.