Turkey are favourites to use their home advantage to good effect when they take on Croatia in the first leg of their Euro 2012 play-off.
Guus Hiddink’s men have won six of their last seven competitive home fixtures and they go into the game with odds of 27/20 to make it seven wins in eight.
This leaves Croatia as narrow underdogs at 2/1, with the draw at 11/5 in bwin’s 3Way football betting market.
Turkey’s home performances were key to their second-place finish in Group A, with their away record leaving much to be desired.
The Crescent-Stars only managed one victory on their travels in qualifying, meaning they only secured runners-up spot with two points to spare ahead of Belgium despite four wins from five in their own country.
Meanwhile, Croatia had a more balanced record in Group F, with seven wins, a draw and two defeats leaving them just two points behind winners Greece.
Admittedly, both of Croatia’s defeats came away from home, with a 2-0 loss to Greece in the penultimate qualifying game proving particularly costly.
Nevertheless, their record of conceding just five goals on their travels shows they will be difficult to break down, as do recent 0-0 away draws with France and Ireland in international friendly matches.
With this in mind, if Turkey do manage to use their home advantage to good effect their victory is only likely to be a narrow one.
As such, a bet on a team to win by a single goal’s difference could be a good one at odds of 23/20.
The home side’s cause is helped by the fact that Croatia’s top scorer in qualifying, Niko Kranjcar, is out through injury.
With Croatia’s attacking options limited, this slender victory could come about through a 1-0 scoreline in favour of Turkey, which is priced at 11/2.
A successful £25 free bet on Turkey to win 1-0 would return £162.50, with the free bet available to new customers who sign up for a bwin account.
Of course, there is a famous precedence for the game being a close-run thing.
The match is a repeat of the Euro 2008 quarter-final which saw Turkey progress to meet Germany at the expense of Croatia after triumphing 3-1 on penalties when the game finished 1-1 at the end of 120 minutes.
It was a remarkable contest, notable for the fact that both goals were scored within a minute of the final whistle at the end of extra time.
And with Croatia scoring the opener, it was Turkey who took momentum through to the penalty shoot-out having equalised through Semih Senturk with the final kick of the game.
But even if Turkey triumph in the first leg they are unlikely to be able to put the game to bed and, given their poor away record, this would leave them vulnerable ahead of the return fixture.
And this explains why Croatia are 3/4 favourites to make it to this summer’s tournament, even if Turkey, priced at evens to get to Poland and Ukraine, are favourites to win the first leg on Friday evening.
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