DORTMUND, Germany : Turkey’s teenage winger Arda Guler was the star of his side’s opening Euro 2024 win over Georgia, scoring the crucial goal in a thrilling 3-1 win, but may not be fit enough to start against Portugal on Saturday, coach Vincenzo Montella said.

The 19-year-old suffered with injuries during his debut season at Real Madrid before he scored five goals in five games at the end of the campaign, albeit mostly after his club had secured the LaLiga title.

Guler was a key part of Turkey’s successful start to Euro 2024, restoring their lead over Georgia with a stunning 20-metre strike which ultimately proved the difference in an unexpectedly close contest in Dortmund on Tuesday.

His goal also made Guler the youngest player to score on his European Championship debut at the age of 19 years and 114 days, beating the record set by Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo at Euro 2004 before Guler was born.

But if Guler is to face off in a generational clash with the 39-year-old Ronaldo, it may only be from the bench.

“Unfortunately, physically, he’s not 100 per cent fit,” Montella told a press conference on Friday. “He’s not doing so well, so we will decide whether to field him tomorrow, only at the last minute. I hope to have him.”

Turkey’s concerns are not limited to their attacking abilities, however, with tournament debutants Georgia seemingly able to play through their midfield and defence at will.

The final score slightly flattered Turkey, who were saved by some rearguard defending and the woodwork before Kerem Akturkoglu rolled the ball into an empty net to make it 3-1 after Georgia’s goalkeeper had joined the attack in stoppage time.

The need for improvement was not lost on Montella, who said Portugal are brimming with quality that will require his side to show more defensive rigour.

Dortmund’s BVB Stadion is expected to once again provide what is effectively a home match for Turkey, after a thunderous atmosphere for the game against Georgia.

Akturkoglu said the passion of Turkey’s fans, both in the ground and in what he described as an “excited nation”, would drive the players forward.

But Montella warned his side not to get caught up in the noise: “Celebrating too much is not good, because it makes you lose concentration, it makes you lose contact with reality.”


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