Fatih Terim has narrowed down his preliminary team to the 23-man squad ahead of Euro 2016 and like just about everything involving the Turkish national team it was not short of controversy.
The obvious talking point is Gokhan Tore. The Besiktas winger was selected for the 31-man squad despite being suspended for the first two games – for a ridiculous challenge he made in the final Iceland game. There was however, a strong case still to be made for his inclusion. The explosive winger would have provided options and additional firepower in the final group game and if Turkey progressed to the next round.
There was however, a casualty. Bayer Leverkusen defender Omer Toprak had been left out as a result of Tore’s inclusion. The two have not played since a gun-incident involving both players almost brought the entire national team down in flames.
The worst part is Tore and Toprak are two of the most important players available to Turkey. Toprak is an experienced Bundesliga centre-back and Tore is on the verge of a big money move to the Premier League.
Neither Tore nor Toprak will make the journey to France but Emre Mor will. If you are scratching your head wondering who Emre is well he is an 18-year-old FC Nordsjælland youngster who was born in Denmark. Mor did not actually make his senior debut until last week in the Crescent-Stars 1-0 win over Montenegro. The youngster put on such an impressive performance that Terim decided to bring the attacking midfielder along to France.
The midfield boasts quality in all areas with Borussia Dortmund’s Nuri Sahin, Galatasaray captain Selcuk Inan, Fenerbahce rising star Ozan Tufan and Mehmet Topal vying for a place in central midfield. Barcelona star Arda Turan, Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu, Besiktas maestro Oguzhan Ozyakup and Mainz 05’s Yunus Malli leave Terim spoilt for choice in attacking midfield and on the wings.
There are however, a few glaring problems. Defensively Terim still does not know who his strongest centre-back pairing is. Bursaspor’s Serdar Aziz failed to make the squad due to injury leaving Terim in a bit of a pickle. Aziz had been building defensive synergy with Mehmet Topal at centre-back. Despite being a midfielder Topal has been deemed good enough to play at the back. Who he will be joined by remains a mystery but will probably be either Hakan Balta or Semih Kaya – both experienced Galatasaray players. At full-back Caner Erkin will start on the left with Gokhan Gonul on the right and Ismail Koybasi as well as Serdar Ozbayrakli will give the Fenerbahce veterans competition for their spot.
Upfront Terim also has problems. The ‘Emperor’ has only brought along two strikers and one of them – Burak Yilmaz – has been battling with injury. Cenk Tosun has started for Turkey recently but he was not first for league leaders Besiktas this season playing much of the campaign as second fiddle to Mario Gomez. As a result Terim may be tempted to play Malli or Calhanoglu as a false nine considering both have an eye for goal.
Turkey are oozing talent in midfield but have a few issues in defence and upfront. There is however, a great team spirit in the camp and the last time Terim got the Crescent-Stars to the European Championships he lead the team to the semi-finals – with far less quality.
Full Turkish national team squad:
Harun Tekin (Bursaspor)
Onur Recep Kıvrak (Trabzonspor)
Volkan Babacan (Medipol Başakşehir)
Gökhan Gönül (Fenerbahçe)
Şener Özbayraklı (Fenerbahçe)
Ahmet Yılmaz Çalık (Gençlerbirliği)
Hakan Kadir Balta (Galatasaray)
Mehmet Topal (Fenerbahçe)
Semih Kaya (Galatasaray)
Caner Erkin (Fenerbahçe)
İsmail Köybaşı (Beşiktaş)
Emre Mor (FC Nordsjaelland)
Volkan Şen (Fenerbahçe)
Hakan Çalhanoğlu (Bayern Leverkusen)
Nuri Şahin (Dortmund)
Oğuzhan Özyakup (Beşiktaş)
Ozan Tufan (Fenerbahçe)
Selçuk İnan (Galatasaray)
Arda Turan (Barcelona)
Olcay Şahan (Beşiktaş)
Burak Yılmaz (Beijingguoan FC)
Cenk Tosun (Beşiktaş)
Yunus Mallı (Mainz 05)