Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Nations League clash between Turkey and Luxembourg, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
Turkey will aim to continue their 100% record this season UEFA Nations League when they host Luxembourg on Thursday.
The visitors need to win to stand a chance of overtaking their upcoming opponents to the top.
After Turkey was relegated to League C in the Nations League, it was expected that this time they would return straight to the second European division as the top-ranked nation within the third division.
Until now, Stephen Kunz14 goals without conceding were scored by the team from , who won four games against Luxembourg, the Faroe Islands and Lithuania (twice).
Kuntz, whose equalizer against England at Euro 1996 helped knock out the Three Lions in the semi-finals, has had an impressive record since taking charge of the Crescent-Stars last September, winning seven of his ten games.
The only real blot on the 59-year-old’s book is the 3-1 defeat by Portugal in March, which ended Turkey’s hopes of a third World Cup qualification in the country’s history.
An eighth win against Luxembourg on Thursday would at least confirm promotion back to Europe’s League B in the Nations League, possibly boosting the chances of a play-off spot for World Cup 2026 qualifiers.
Luxembourg, on the other hand, has had an impressive journey down Luke Holtz since their former midfielder took charge of the senior team in 2010 and, under his tutelage, reached an all-time high of 82nd in the FIFA World Rankings in September 2018.
In the Nations League, Luxembourg rose to League C on their first attempt, before finishing runners-up to Montenegro in the last edition of the competition. History seems to repeat itself this time unless they can pull off a memorable win at the Basaksehir Fatih Terim Stadium on Thursday.
The Red Lions have never qualified for a major tournament in their history, but under Holtz they may have better odds than ever, especially with the Nations League offering a potential backdoor route.
It is therefore important that they achieve at least second place in the group with as many points as possible. Having beaten the Republic of Ireland away in March 2021, there is little reason why they cannot do the same against Turkey this week.
Form of the Turkish Nations League:
Turkey form (all competitions):
Form of the Luxembourg Nations League:
Luxembourg form (all competitions):
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Salih Ozcanwho has played five games for Turkey since joining from Germany earlier this year will be unavailable after leaving the squad with swelling in his foot.
With regular captain Hakan Calhanoğlu not called up due to hamstring problems, there is a clear gap in midfield that needs to be filled Irfan Kaveci and Orcun Kokcu possibly fill.
In total, Kuntz has called up nine different players from his previous squad, but only Onur Bulut and Ismail Yuksek waiting for their international debuts.
Ozan Kabakwho has been in excellent form for Hoffenheim this season could be favoured Caglar Soyuncu at centre-back given the 26-year-old’s lack of playing time at Leicester City.
Luxembourg have brought six different players to their squad compared to their previous selection, including an experienced defender Lars Krogh Gerson.
Fabio Lohei and Alessio Curci would make their international debut should they be involved against Turkey, although Holtz may prefer to use them against Lithuania on Sunday given the cost of his side’s trip to Turkey.
Turkey possible starting line-up:
Bayindir; Celik, Kabak, Ayhan, Kadioglu; Kahveci, Kokcu; Under, Dervisoglu, Akturkoglu; Dursun
Luxembourg possible starting line-up:
Moris; Da Graca, Chanot, Carlson, Pinto; Barreiro, Gerson, Thill; Bohnert, Sinani, Rodrigues
We say: Turkey 2-0 Luxembourg
Even with a few injury-related absences in midfield, Turkey should have too much quality for the opponent.
Luxembourg have improved tremendously in recent years but quality is still lacking in certain areas and the hosts will be motivated to maintain their 100 per cent record and secure promotion to the B division.
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Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com predict under 3.5 goals in this game. Click here to find out what else they predict for this game and for more of their tried and true football tips.Under 3.5: Data