The second round of group games at an international tournament can be a real test of nerve for any value-seeking punter. Everything has its price and you just know you’re going to be put on the spot at this stage of proceedings by the reaction to one performance that dismisses everything you knew beforehand. When two contrasting reactions meet at the same time, even more so.
Turkey were dreadful against Croatia, there’s no getting away from it. By all accounts, it was their most lacklustre display in a competitive fixture for nearly two years but the reaction - from the media, from the players and from head coach Fatih Terim - was everything you want to see in that scenario. Anger, frustration and a lot of soul-searching, followed by a determination to atone.
So let’s take a chance on Terim’s menputting things right in some style and take the 9/1 available on Turkey to land the biggest scalp of the tournament so far. The Crescent-Stars were best-priced at 11/2 to win this game before a ball had been kicked and my ratings have the underdogs at around the 5/1 mark.
Get 6-1 on Spain to beat Turkey with MARATHON BET
It’s a course of action made easier to take by looking at the most basic measurement of performance data from their abject showing in Toulouse. The Turks covered only 101.9 kilometres against Croatia - the third-lowest figure in the opening five days - which is criminal considering the quality of the opposition.
However, an opinion was put forward in my preview of that game that Turkey tend to save their best efforts for when the stakes are highest. They are a nation with a death-or-glory mentality, better suited to the knockout stages, and they struggle to find the right level of intensity when they know deep down that there’s a fallback if they come up short.
So that probably goes a long way to explaining the passivity of that first performance, but now the stakes are getting higher as the chance of progression decline. Moreover, the fear of being humiliated by the defending champions if they don’t graft without the ball should be enough to instigate a marked improvement.
Spain answered many questions with their display against the Czech Republic, which was a throwback to the death-by-a-thousand-cuts philosophy of their World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 triumphs. But when games are resting on a knife-edge for so long, like that one was, La Roja always run the risk of being unhinged by one slip as much as the opposition.