DORTMUND, Germany : Turkey’s fans are set to create a raucous atmosphere again as their team face Portugal at the Dortmund BVB Stadion on Saturday looking to close in on a spot in the Euro 2024 knockout stage.

Aware of the challenge posed by playing a confident Turkey side enjoying virtual home advantage, Portugal manager Robert Martinez said his side need to stay focused from the start to weather the storm that will come on and off the pitch.

“We expect the stadium to be loud. In their debut win against Georgia, Turkey had a lot of support in the stands. But they have a very strong inside (central midfield) game and we need to stop that, be compact and frustrate their efforts,” Martinez told a press conference on Friday.

“But we also need to be ourselves, controlling the tempo and giving it width because that is what we do best. Turkey showed they defend but their focus is always to attack. They are aggressive, have character and attitude. There are no secrets.”

Turkey are buoyant after a hard-fought 3-1 win against Georgia in which rising star Arda Guler became the youngest player to score on his debut at a Euros aged 19 years and 114 days, beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s record.

By contrast, Portugal had to dig deep to beat Czech Republic 2-1 with a stoppage-time winner, which raised questions about Martinez’s side who arrived in Germany among the favourites.

But the Spaniard seemed unfazed by the criticism and said he was confident his team had the quality and experience to cope with the pressure and get better as the tournament progresses.

“Sure, the result carries a lot of weight in football but for us, looking at the statistics of the game, such as 73 per cent possession, 13 corners in our favour … We were very good,” Martinez said.

“We need to improve what we did in the first half, we didn’t have the number of shots we wanted. The most positive thing was the reaction after conceding the goal. The team controlled the game, showed maturity and character.

“The team grew and that’s very important. There’s a lot of data that shows what we did well and what we need to improve on.”

Forward Rafael Leao agreed with his manager and seemed unworried the strong support from the Turkish supporters.

“Czech Republic also had a lot of fans and we still managed to turn it around when we were down 1-0,” he told a press conference.

“I don’t think that’s going to be the problem for us tomorrow. We’re mentally prepared for that and we’re focused because we know it’s a decisive game for our qualification to the next phase.”

Turkey and Portugal both have three points in Group F, while Czech Republic and Georgia, who meet earlier on Saturday, are looking to get their first points on the board.


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