Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Turkey vs Netherlands
Turkey will look to secure their place in the World Cup play-offs when they host Group D winners Netherlands in Istanbul on Tuesday.
Fatih Terim's men currently occupy second place in their European qualification pool - nine points behind their visitors - with the play-off race well and truly on.
Romania and Hungary, who face Estonia and Andorra respectively in their final games, are both in with a shout for the play-offs, although Turkey boast a superior goal difference going into the last round of fixtures.
Terim's side will head into the game with confidence, having won their last five qualifiers while conceding just once in those games.
In Buruk Yilmaz, they also have an in-form striker upon whom to call, with the Galatasaray forward having scored five times during their purple patch.
Their most recent success saw Burak and club team-mate Umut Bulut net as Turkey beat Estonia in Tallinn on Friday.
However, Turkey will also need to be aware of the fearsome form in which Louis van Gaal's men find themselves, with Netherlands having not lost a World Cup qualifier since September 2001.
A 2-0 win for Oranje in the reverse fixture last September formed part of their 31-game unbeaten streak, with the most recent addition to the run being last Friday's 8-1 demolition of Hungary.
While Van Gaal's men may struggle to rack up a similar scoreline against Turkey, the coach is hopeful for a repeat of the industry on show in Amsterdam.
"We put the opponent under pressure for the full 90 minutes. The effort and the willingness was enormous," he told the press. "It's a difficult process to squeeze right from the start and then to sustain it."
Robin van Persie scored a hat-trick against Hungary to overtake Patrick Kluivert as his country's record goalscorer and is sure to go into the match in Turkey full of confidence.
Van Gaal can also look to his resolute defence, who have kept five clean sheets in nine qualifiers, as he seeks to end qualification on a high.