Turkey to play Montenegro in World Cup qualifying stage
The home side, which sits atop the group standings after three matches with two wins and one draw, aims to erase the bitter memories of June’s Euro 2020, in which it lost all three group games via two goal margins and managed to score just a single goal.
Coach Şenol Güneş will once again heavily rely on a young generation of Turkish footballers playing abroad, including Çağlar Söyüncü of Leicester City, Yusuf
Yazıcı of French champion Lille and Hakan Çalhanoğlu of Inter Milan.
The other games in Group G pit Latvia against Gibraltar and Norway against the Netherlands.
Elsewhere in World Cup qualifiers, Fifty-three days on from the joy of beating England on penalties on a feverish night in London, Italy will take the acclaim of its own supporters when it plays Bulgaria in Florence.
Roberto Mancini’s team cannot afford to rest on its laurels because until it has secured qualification for the finals in Qatar, it will not have completely erased the memory of their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Italy is unbeaten in 34 games, including winning its first three qualifiers for Qatar back in March, and now it faces three more matches in eight days with a trip to Switzerland and a home meeting with Lithuania also on the agenda.
“I would like the boys to pick up where they left off,” said Mancini this week.
“As a national team we can still improve between now and the World Cup, but first we have to qualify.”
Only the winners of the 10 qualifying groups in Europe are certain to qualify, with the remaining three places up for grabs in playoffs next March.
Meanwhile, Germany will start a new era under its new coach as Hansi Flick is the new man in charge after 15 years under Joachim Löw.
For a long time Flick was Löw’s assistant and, after winning the Champions League with Bayern Munich, he is the man tasked with restoring pride to a national team that went out of Euro 2020 in the last 16.
“I’m looking forward to working with him,” said Bayern and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. “I have big goals. I want to be a world champion.”
Germany’s final qualifier under Löw in March ended in a shock 2-1 home defeat to North Macedonia, its first loss in World Cup qualifying in 20 years leaving it third in Group J.
Flick’s start looks gentle though, with Germany playing Liechtenstein, Armenia and Iceland.