Turkey will face Wales in a Group A match on Wednesday, hoping that a big audience in Baku will help them collect three much-needed points. The Turks are under pressure after losing 3-0 to Italy in their initial Group A game, while Wales is in desperate need of a win after drawing with Switzerland and having to play Italy in Rome as their last group game.
Thousands of Turkish fans are set to travel to Azerbaijan’s capital for the match, while Senol Gunes’s team is expecting support from the locals in a crowd of 30,000. This will be a considerably different atmosphere than the one Wales had in Baku when they drew 1-1 with Switzerland in front of just 8,782 people.
According to Wales defender Neco Williams, even a hostile audience is preferable for playing better than empty stadiums like the previous year. “Having fans back in the stadium gets you more motivated. If it’s going to be like an away game that’s going to motivate us, to make sure we get the win in front of their fans,” he said.
After a lacklustre showing in the opening night loss to the Italians, when Turkey failed to create an effect on the game, Gunes will have a lot to think about. Turkey’s defensive attitude toward the match faced criticism at home and is unlikely to be repeated.
According to a former Turkey international Abdullah Ercan, the lesson learned from the setback is that Gunes must let his squad play in their natural style. Joe Rodon, a defender for Wales, believes the Turks will be pumped up for the match.