Euro 08: Turkey Prepares to Change Their Fate Against Czech Republic

Saturday, June 14 2008 @ 07:54 am UTC

Portugal have booked a last eight place in the knockout stage after moving clear at the top of Group A with six points from impressive wins, and been looking at tournament glory rather than the final game in group as Scolari gave the team a day off after Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Czechs and striker Cristiano Ronaldo talked about dreaming high. Trkey and the Czech Republic must take victory over each other to avoid Euro 2008 elimination in Sunday's match in Geneva, while the Portugal vs co-hosts Switzerland could come out a walkover here as Luiz Felip Scolari's side advances already. The Swiss, however, suffered an early exit with two previous loses, while Turkey and the Czech side head to Sunday's game both on three points, two goals for and three against from the previous matches. Under the qualification rules of tournament organizers UEFA at the Finals, a draw would leave the Turks and Czechs with identical records, requiring a penalty shootout rather than extra time play to decide who goes through as runners-up behind the Portuguese.

Talking at a press conference on Thursday, Czech coach Karel Bruckner ruled out deliberately playing for penalties but his team have been practicing spot-kicks as part of their training. "Penalties will not be a key part of our preparation. We don't want to play for a draw against Turkey and rely on chance. Our priority is to win in 90 minutes," he said at the team's training base in the Austrian mountains.

The same willing was also expressed by the Turks, as goalie Volkan Demirel said at Friday's daily briefing to the media that "we will try everything to make sure the match doesn't go to penalties." His teammate Arda Turan, who scored Turkey's injury-time winner against Switzerland, said the squad had faith in their keeper if the regular time ended up a draw. "We all trust him to do what it takes," said Turan at the team's training base in Nyon. Historically, the Czech Republic, who won all four previous encounters against Turkey with a 13-2 goal record, have been in three shootouts at major championships, winning every one and scoring all 20 spot kicks. Turkey has never been in a shootout at a major tournament.

However, Turkey have impressed with their sterling comeback against Switzerland on Wednesday in Basel, as Fatih Terim's side showed an awful lot of spirit, not to mention ability, in grabbing a dramatic last-minute 2-1 win. And the Czechs only had a decent first half against Portugal and their opening day victory on an opportunist goal over Switzerland now seems like a long time ago. Bruckner may make change of shape and personnel for the last game, particularly the trio who schemed behind Milan Baros, saying that he would be looking to correct mistakes made in the Portugal games, and to the need to take more shots on goal with playing two center forwards on Sunday.

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