Euro 2024: Turkey aims to bounce back from Euro flop against debutants Georgia

Georgia, meanwhile, are playing in their first ever major tournament and are the clear underdogs in Group F.

Published - June 17, 2024 03:29 pm IST - DORTMUND

Turkey’s Italian head coach Vincenzo Montella talks to Turkey players during a training session of Turkey’s national football team ahead of the UEFA Euro 2024 football Championship at the team’s base camp in Barsinghausen.

Turkey’s Italian head coach Vincenzo Montella talks to Turkey players during a training session of Turkey’s national football team ahead of the UEFA Euro 2024 football Championship at the team’s base camp in Barsinghausen. | Photo Credit: AFP

Turkey begin their Euro 2024 campaign against newcomers Georgia on June 18 knowing a winning start in one of the tournament's weaker groups would give them a great chance of making the knockout stages after disappointing last time around.

Tipped as dark horses going into Euro 2020, Turkey crashed out having lost all three group-stage games but they impressed in qualifying for Germany as they topped a group including 2022 World Cup finalists Croatia.

Their more recent form has been mixed: since beating Germany 3-2 in Berlin in November, Turkey have not won in five games and were hammered 6-1 by Austria in a friendly in March before holding reigning champions Italy to a draw this month.

Turkey's ambitions of progressing from a group also containing Euro 2016 winners Portugal and Czech Republic rest in large part on captain and midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu, a key part of Inter Milan's Serie A-winning side.

Hopes are also high for attacking midfielder Arda Guler after the 19-year-old came back from injury to score five goals in five games at the end of Real Madrid's victorious La Liga campaign.

Georgia, meanwhile, are playing in their first ever major tournament and are the clear underdogs in Group F. Their slim prospects of qualifying for the last 16 will rest largely on the shoulders of talisman Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

With Valencia goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili reportedly a target for several top European clubs and forward Georges Mikautadze impressing on loan at Metz last season, Georgia have talent at both ends of the pitch.

But Napoli's Kvaratskhelia — dubbed "Kvaradona" in a nod to Diego Maradona, perhaps the greatest compliment Napoli fans can give — must be at his best if Georgia are to spring a surprise and try to help unite a fractured nation, recently wracked by huge protests against a controversial "foreign agent" law.

"It was the greatest dream of every Georgian to become a part of such an important tournament, and it was the happiest day for all of us when we achieved it," Kvaratskhelia told UEFA.com.

"But we didn't come here just to attend, we wish to leave our mark on Euro 2024, to write a new page of history."

With a Portugal side full of talent expected to top Group F, Turkey and Czech Republic, who face each other on June 26, will be the likely contenders for second place.

Turkey, though, must first overcome a Georgia team who may be unburdened by expectation as they aim to become only the fifth side to win the title on their debut in a European Championship.

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