Soccer-Turkey ready to put the heat on Portugal boosted by legion of fans


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Group F - Turkey v Georgia - Dortmund BVB Stadion, Dortmund, Germany - June 18, 2024 Turkey players pose for a team group photo before the match REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

DORTMUND, Germany (Reuters) - Electrified by a Euro 2024 opening win and strong support from their passionate fans, Turkey will try to keep the momentum going when they face Portugal at the Dortmund BVB Stadion.

The Portuguese had to dig deep to beat Czech Republic 2-1 with a stoppage-time winner by substitute Francisco Conceicao in their first Group F game, which raised questions about Roberto Martinez's side who arrived in Germany among the favourites.

Portugal are widely seen as having one of the best squads at the Euros after a perfect run in qualifying with 10 wins ands still have 39-year-old captain Ronaldo as their focal point.

Faced with high expectations, Martinez's side struggled against the disciplined Czechs and have tough opponents in the motivated Turks who won a hard-fought game against Georgia.

Tens of thousands of Turkey fans draped in the country's red flag created a raucous atmosphere in their opener on Tuesday and even more are expected for Saturday's match against Portugal.

Almost three million people with Turkish roots live in Germany, following a wave of migration that began in the 1960s.

The close ties are reflected in the Germany and Turkey teams. Germany captain Ilkay Gundogan has Turkish roots, while Turkey's midfielder Salih Ozcan was born in Cologne and plays for Borussia Dortmund.

The rising star in Vincenzo Montella's Turkey side is Real Madrid teenager Arda Guler, born on the outskirts of Ankara, who became the youngest player to score on his debut at a Euros at 19 years and 114 days, beating Ronaldo's record with a stunning long-range strike in the 3-1 win against Georgia.

Guler was not even born when 19-year-old Ronaldo scored against Greece at Euro 2004 on home soil and was a baby when one of the men in charge of marking him on Thursday, Portugal's 41-year-old centre back Pepe, who became the oldest player at a Euros on Tuesday, signed with Real Madrid in 2007.

Saturday's match will be a clash of generations and expectations, with Turkey trying to shock a talented Portugal side who need a statement win to help them shake off the underachiever tag they have carried around in recent years.

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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