Sunday, July 21, 2024

Portugal, Turkey eye second straight win


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Dortmund, June 21: Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal play Turkey in their second group game at the European Championship. Both countries opened Group F play with a win, with Portugal beating the Czech Republic 2-1 and Turkey defeating Georgia 3-1.
The 39-year-old Ronaldo lost his place in the Portugal team at the World Cup in 2022 but he looks to be as guaranteed a starter as ever under Roberto Martinez, who took over as coach after the tournament in Qatar. Ronaldo is captain and played the full game against the Czechs, though didn’t score.Portugal encountered a Czech Republic team which sat back and defended in numbers in Leipzig. Turkey is unlikely to do that, given its strength in attack, so expect Ronaldo and company to have more space going forward.
Arda Guler is the one to watch for Turkey. The 19-year-old attacking midfielder from Real Madrid scored one of the goals of the tournament against Georgia – a long-range screamer into the top corner – to take Ronaldo’s record as the youngest debut scorer at a European Championship.
Turkey is playing a second straight game at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion. Its fans turned the stadium into a sea of red against Georgia and look sure to outnumber the Portuguese support on Saturday.Portugal or Turkey will guarantee a first-place finish in the group with a win in Dortmund and if Georgia-Czech Republic is a draw in Hamburg earlier Saturday.Portugal’s entire 26-man squad has been in training so Martinez again has some tough decisions to make, given the strength in depth of the group. Joao Palhinha is pushing for a return as the anchorman in midfield.Irfan Can Kahveci missed the win over Georgia because of injury and has yet to return to full training with Turkey. Ronaldo will look to add to his record 14 goals in European Championships. That is five more than his nearest rival – Michel Platini, whose nine goals all came in the same tournament (1984).
Kickoff at 9:30 pm (IST). (AP)


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