Turkey vs Russia: UEFA Nations League Preview – Crescent Stars chase first victory

Turkey's supporters wave flags prior the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Turkey and France at the Buyuksehir Belediyesi stadium in Konya, on June 8, 2019. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey take on Russia in the UEFA Nations League, Group B3, on Saturday 15 November at the Sukru Saracoglu stadium, Istanbul.

I will be using 888 online betting to provide the odds used in the Match Day 4 preview.

Turkey have yet to win a group game but at odds of 2.55 I think they have been priced short.

Crescent Stars manager Senol Gunes has gone for experimental lineups so far in the group, partly as part of preparations for Euro 2021 and partly due to an injury crisis.

Turkey have been without several important players but most the star names are nearing a full recovery.

For the first time in months Gunes will have Caglar Soyuncu, Cengiz Under, Merih Demiral and Cenk Tosun all available.

Additionally, Yusuf Yazici who has been in impressive form for Lille, as has his teammates Mehmet Zeki Celik and Burak Yilmaz will also be available.

Basaksehir ace Irfan Can Kahveci who was involved in the Champions League victory over Manchester United is back after missing the last international games with illness.

Gunes has a full-strength side at his disposal. This side cruised through European Championship qualifiers, even managing to take four points off from reigning world champions France.

Part of the reason Turkey were so successful in qualifying was their defensive record.

Gunes’ side conceded just three goals in 10 qualification games. No other side in qualifiers let in fewer goals.

Turkey have struggled defensively in the UEFA Nations League so far and that is partly due to the number of injuries they have had in defence.

Demiral was out for months with a cruciate ligament injury and Soyuncu has been out for the past few weeks.

Kabak has also been in and out of injury.

How Turkey is expected to lineup 

All three defenders are now back and match fit which will be a major boost to the team.

Mert Gunok is likely to start in goal. We could see a defence comprised of Soyuncu and Demiral at centre-back, Celik at right-back and a toss-up for the left-back position between Hasan Ali Kaldirim and Umut Meras.

It would not be a surprise to see Ozan Tufan and Okay Yokuslu start in central midfield and an attacking midfield trio of Cengiz Under on the right flank and Yusuf Yazici and Hakan Calhanoglu rotating in central and left roles.

Burak Yilmaz will probably start up front with Tosun hungry for playing time after recovering from injury.

Gunes has plenty of options at his disposal so we could see a few changes made however, he has hinted in his pre-match presser that he will field a strong side and go for the win.


Despite not winning in Group B3, Turkey have recorded three draws and only lost once. The home side are currently five points behind group leaders Russia but with three games remaining, they are by no means out of contention for a top-two finish.

Russia have got off to a good start winning twice and drawing twice in the group.

Turkey have, however, been on an upward trajectory following their opening matchday defeat against Hungary and will finally be able to call on a full-strength side.

The last game between Turkey and Russia ended in a 1-1 draw in Moscow.

The Russians capitalised on poor Turkish defending with Anton Miranchuk giving his side the lead in the first half.

Russia was by far the better side in the first half but the second half was the complete opposite.

Turkey found their composure and upped the tempo after the interval. Russia struggled to deal with Under in particular.

It was not long before Kenan Karaman equalised and Russia were fortunate not to concede again after giving away multiple chances.

And was a Turkey side without a fit Soyuncu, Cengiz Under, Yusuf Yazici, Irfan Can Kahveci.

The team set to face Russia this time around will be far stronger – on paper anyway.

Home advantage is not as advantageous as it used to be considering how few fans are allowed into the stadium but I do expect Turkey to up their game and try to prove themselves against Russia.

Head coach Gunes is using these Nations League games to work out his strongest team ahead of Euro 2021 next summer so there is the added motivation for players hoping to make it to the European Championships.

A win here would close the gap with leaders Russia to just two points.

Turkey would be unable to move up the table even if second-placed Hungary lose as they are currently four points ahead of the Crescent Stars in third.

Turkey are starting to move through the gears and it would not be a surprise to see a far better performance than the last time these two sides met.

Last placed Serbia will face Hungary in the other Group B3 game.

Prediction: Turkey Win