Euro 2020 is on the horizon, and Turkey is one of the teams out to watch out for, and to a lesser extent, they can be the dark horses of the competition. The current Turkey team has been cited by many as the country’s golden generation, with players plying their trade in Europe’s top clubs. Two such players are Burak Yilmaz and Yusuf Yazici, the Turkish contingent of Lille, who inspired the French club to Ligue 1 title recently, breaking the dominance of PSG. With their job done at the club level, the duo’s focus will be on Euro 2020.
Yazici’s quick rise to prominence
Lille were immaculate in the 2020/21 Ligue 1 season from the off, and Yusuf Yazici’s contribution was worth noting. The 24-year-old joined the French outfit in the summer of 2019 after four good years at his homeland club Trabzonspor. His first season wasn’t an eye-catching one, though, and Lille also fell short of booking their place in the Champions League. The Turkish midfielder came into the fore in the 2020/21 season, eventually helping Lille to the league title, long-held by Paris Saint-Germain. Yazici garnered an impressive tally of 14 goals and five assists across all competitions, with some spellbinding performances in the process. The pick of the lot is his stunning hat-trick against AC Milan in the Europa League group stage. From playing as a centre-forward, the second striker to attacking midfielder, Yazici showed versatility throughout the season and thus became a key cog in Christophe Galtier’s system.
Burak Yilmaz – an unheralded striker
We have seen Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic defy their age to continue playing at the highest level for the past few seasons. Burak Yilmaz should be added to that list as his first season in Ligue 1, was nothing but exceptional. The 35-year-old made his leap to Lille after proving himself as a top striker in the Turkish top-flight. And there could have been doubts regarding his transition into Ligue 1, but Yilmaz battled the odds and hit the ground running. He mustered a total of 16 goals and 5 assists in the French top-flight, and most importantly, his contribution came towards the climax of the season – as he missed quite a lot of games due to calf injury – to inspire Lille to the Ligue 1 title. Yilmaz’s best game will be the one against Lyon, where Lille secured a thrilling 3-2 win, with him racking up 2 goals and an assist.
Turkey have announced their provisional squad for Euro 2020 recently, and there are big names like Hakan Calhanoglu, Ozan Kabak and Caglar Soyuncu. But Yilmaz and Yazici have a big part to play as they are coming on the back of an extraordinary season.