Euro 2024: Georgia makes debut at a major tournament against Turkey in Group F

DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — Georgia makes its debut at a major soccer tournament when the South Caucasus country of 3.7 million people plays Turkey in Group F at the European Championship. The other teams in the group are Portugal and the Czech Republic. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. local time (1600 GMT) in Dortmund. Here’s what to know about the match:

Match facts

— Georgia is the only debutant at Euro 2024, though it still has a pedigree at the tournament. Three Georgian players were in the Soviet Union team that won the inaugural title in 1960.

— The country has celebrated the national team being on the big stage for the first time by releasing commemorative stamps and putting special coins in circulation for the occasion.

— Expect to see Georgia relying heavily on Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, the undoubted superstar of the team after his exploits for Napoli over the last two seasons — including winning the MVP in its Serie A title-winning season of 2022-23.

— Turkey was many pundits’ highly fancied outsiders at the last Euros but flopped, losing all three of its group games and scoring just one goal. The national team has gone more under the radar this time, despite topping a qualifying group containing Croatia.

— Former Italy striker Vincenzo Montella is Turkey’s coach, somewhat by accident. He ended up in the job in September 2023 having been working in Turkish club soccer as coach of Adana Demirspor for the previous two years.

Team news

— Arda Guler, a 19-year-old playmaker at Real Madrid, is set to be the beating heart of Turkey’s team for the first time at a major tournament — and is expected to star for the national team for years. İrfan Can Kahveci and Cenk Tosun have been training separately ahead of the game while defender Ozan Kabak was ruled out of the tournament after sustaining an ACL injury in the warmup games.

— Georgia coach Willy Sagnol has been working with “almost a full complement” of players at the team’s training camp in Austria before heading to Germany, the country’s soccer federation said. No specific injuries have been disclosed.

— Georgia has one squad member who plays in the United States — Atlanta United winger Saba Lobhanidze.

By the numbers

— A moped driver traveled 4,000 kilometers (about 2,500 miles) over 12 days to deliver a Georgian flag covered in messages of support from people back home to the team at its training base in Germany on Saturday.

— Kvaratskhelia, who is aged 23, has scored 15 goals in 30 games for Georgia.

— Turkey hasn’t won any of its last five games, the most recent being a 2-1 loss to Poland in a warmup for Euro 2024.

What they’re saying

— “We all need to try to create another miracle and reward our support with more beautiful days.” — Georgia midfielder Nika Kvekveskiri.

— “Euro 2020 was disappointing for us. We were a young team back then, and we still are. We are well-prepared for this tournament … I believe we are ready for this tournament.” — Turkey defender Merih Demiral.


AP Euro 2024:

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