First the positives . . . in Arda Turan they have a world class player who can inspire those around him while their veteran manager, Fatih Terim, (in charge for the third time) has plenty of experience and a proven knack for getting the best out of the team. That, though, surely can’t be enough for Turkey to make any sort of serious impact on Euro 2016. Burak Yilmaz was the top scorer for the team in qualifying with just four goals and while Hakan Calhanoglu, the young Bayer Leverkusen midfielder, can pose a threat from distance and set pieces, they may struggle to open up the group’s better sides. Certainly the fact that they failed to beat Latvia home or away in qualifying will not fill the Spaniards or Croats with fear and their best shot would look to be beating the Czechs, as they did in Prague in qualifying (although things were evened out in the return fixture) and it was Pavel Vrba’s side that ended up topping the group while the Turks snuck directly into the finals as the best third placed side thanks to favourable results in the last round of games.
How they qualified
Turkey were the team that benefited most from the thoroughly lacklustre performance of the Netherlands during qualifying as they managed to scrape through automatically as the best third-placed team. After being beaten comprehensively by Iceland in their opening group match, followed by a 2-1 loss to Czech Republic, Turkish hopes looked to be on the rocks. However, a draw and a win against the Netherlands, followed by wins over the Czechs and then Iceland on the final day were enough to avoid a play-off.
Now in his third spell as Turkish manager, the 62-year-old has enjoyed considerable success in the national team hotseat. In 1996 he led them to the European Championships before leaving for stints at Galatasaray, Fiorentina and AC Milan. In 2005 he returned to the Turkey job and led his side all the way to the semi-finals of Euro 2008. And after being sacked by Galatasaray in 2013, he was persuaded to take the national job again and will hope to repeat some past heroics at France this summer.
Star Man: Arda Turan
Arda Turan will captain his country in this summer’s championship – the first they have reached since making the quarter-final stage in 2008. After moving to Madrid from Galatasaray, Turan proved himself as a world-class player at Atletico where he was a key part of the team that lost to Real Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final. The following year he made the switch to Barcelona but was hamstrung by the Catalan club’s transfer embargo meaning that he couldn’t make an appearance until January of this year. Since then he has featured regularly for Luis Enrique’s team and led his country to Euro 2016 in the most dramatic of circumstances when a late winning goal against Iceland in their final qualifying game ensured their place in France as the best third-placed team.
One to watch: Oguzhan Ozyakup
After spending four years of his youth career at Arsenal, Ozyakup made the move home to Besiktas where he has excelled enough to recently attract serious interest from Chelsea. The 23-year-old midfielder broke onto the international scene shortly after his move back to Turkey and played a vital role in their qualification for Euro 2016. He scored the opener in his side's crucial win over the Netherlands last September and looks set to play a prominent part in their assault on Group D.
Goalkeepers: Harun Tekin (Bursaspor), Onur Kivrak (Trabzonspor), Volkan Babacan (Istanbul Basaksehir).
Defenders: Ahmet Çalik (Gençlerbirligi), Gökhan Gönül (Fenerbahçe), Hakan Balta (Galatasaray), Ismail Köybasi (Besiktas), Semih Kaya (Galatasaray), Sener Özbayrakli (Fenerbahçe).
Midfielders: Arda Turan (Barcelona), Caner Erkin (Fenerbahçe), Hakan Çalhanogu (Bayer Leverkusen), Mehmet Topal (Fenerbahçe), Nuri Sahin (Borussia Dortmund), Oguzhan Özyakup (Besiktas), Olcay Sahan (Besiktas), Ozan Tufan (Fenerbahçe), Selçuk Inan (Galatasaray), Volkan Sen (Fenerbahçe), Yunus Malli (Mainz).
Forwards: Burak Yilmaz (Beijing Guoan), Cenk Tosun (Besiktas), Emre Mor (Nordsjælland),
What President Trump says...
“The Turks, those guys are dangerous. I think those guys are big friends of ISIS. The Turks don’t want to make America great again, I’ll tell you that for nothing.”