Stars and Gripes

Occasionally interesting insight (and gripes) about the USMNT

A Look at Turkey

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Saturday’s run-out with Turkey serves as an important benchmark for Bob Bradley’s squad, and has only gained significance in light of the staff’s decision to sit most of the regulars in Tuesday’s match.  Turkey will represent a stiff test for the United States, a team who enjoyed an extremely successful run in Euro 2008, when they went out at the hands of Germany in the semifinals having only 14 players eligible.  The Crescent Stars faced a difficult qualifying group for the World Cup, being drawn with Spain, the reigning continental champions, along with young but talented squads in Belgium and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the latter led by Wolfsburg goal-scoring machine Edin Dzeko.

Turkey got off to a promising start in qualifying, taking eight points from the likes of Armenia (2-0), Belgium (1-1), Bosnia-Herzegovina (2-1) and Estonia (0-0).  Close home and away defeats to Spain followed in March and April, along with a loss to Belgium.  Though they managed to take full points from remaining fixtures with Armenia and Estonia, the damage was done.  Spain won the group without dropping a point, and Bosnia-Herzegovina took second, four points clear.

Offensively, Turkey is led by Tuncay Sanli, the Middlesbrough and Stoke City man who’s hit the back of the net 22 times for his country since debuting in 2003, and spent qualifying lining up all over the pitch.  He’s aided by Emre Belozoglu, a classic box-to-box midfielder who has spent time with Inter Milan and Newcastle; Semih Senturk, the Fenerbahce striker; Arda Turan, the impressive young Galatasaray midfielder; and Halil Altintop, the Eintracht Frankfurt winger.

Tactically, they tended towards a classic 4-4-2, particularly when playing the stronger teams in the group (ESP, B-H & BEL).  Later in the campaign, against Estonia and Armenia, they preferred a more attack-minded 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3, with Halil Altintop coming off the bench to move into a striker role, and Hamit Altintop moving wide right.  The midfield remained fluid throughout, with Belozoglu and some combination of Ayhan Akman and Mehmet Aurelio playing through the middle.  Arda Turan and Tuncay Sanli, the driving offensive influences, featured all over the pitch, often lining up on opposite wings, though Sanli eventually moved into a forward role for the stretch run.

Needing points after going 0-2 against group leaders Spain, they lined up in a 4-3-3 in a 4-2 win over Estonia, with Sanli moving forward to the left wing and Turan slotting behind him, creating a potent combination down the left side of the pitch.  Perhaps bizarrely, considering Sanli scored twice and Turan added a third, Turkey abandoned the 4-3-3 going forward.

Following a draw against Bosnia-Herzegonia where Sanli lined up as one of two strikers, Turkey were desperate for a win against Belgium in October.  Sanli and Hamit Altintop started on the wings as the Crescent Stars grasped for creativity while playing without Turan, who had picked up his second yellow and was forced to sit.  Facing a 1-0 deficit at the half, Semih Senturk was recalled from the bench to start the second half at forward.  The change was fruitless, with Belgium finishing off a 2-0 win, and dealing Turkey’s qualifying hopes a significant blow.  With only the Armenia game remaining, Halil Altintop played as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1, with Turan slotting in as the attacking midfielder, and Sanli and Hamit Altintop moving to the wings.  Despite taking a 2-0 win, Turkey were out.

With new manager Guus Hiddink at the helm, Turkey has used games against the Czech Republic last Saturday, and Northern Ireland this past Tuesday, to begin working new players into the squad.  The XI that take the field against the United States tomorrow are likely to be a combination of veterans of the WC Qualifying campaign, and young players looking to make an impression before European Championship qualifying begins in the fall, such as:

Colin Kazim-Richards, 23, the England-born forward currently on loan (from Fenerebahce) with Toulouse in Ligue 1

– Caner Erkin, 21, the Galatasary starlet who featured in the Europa Cup in the season past

– Nuri Sahin, 21, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder

Sercan Yildirim, 20, the highly coveted Bursaspor striker who has been linked with a number of teams throughout Europe (including Man City & Liverpool)

(Credit to the fantastic for info)


Written by Pete Kavanaugh

May 28, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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