Cengiz Under, Turkey Shock France 2-0 in Euro 2020 Qualifying

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIJune 8, 2019

Turkey's forward Burak Yilmaz (L) celebrates after his teammate Turkey's Midfielder Cengiz Under scores his team's second goal during the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Turkey and France at the Buyuksehir Belediyesi stadium in Konya, on June 7, 2019. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

World champions France suffered a surprise 2-0 defeat to Turkey in UEFA 2020 European Championship qualifying on Saturday.

Kaan Ayhan took advantage of some poor marking from the French defence to head the hosts into the lead after 30 minutes, and then Cengiz Under doubled Turkey's lead with a low strike 10 minutes later.

France boss Didier Deschamps responded by sending on Ferland Mendy and Kingsley Coman at half-time, but the visitors continued to struggle.

Turkey still looked the more threatening side, with France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris saving from Kenan Karaman, Burak Yilmaz and Mahmut Tekdemir to prevent the hosts from extending their lead further.


Deschamps Must Call Up Laporte To Fix France's Defence

France were poor all over the pitch on Saturday, but their defence in particular was vulnerable throughout the match.

Centre-backs Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti were both caught out of position for the opening goal, allowing an unmarked Ayhan to head past Lloris.

Under then doubled Turkey's lead after some more sloppy defending from the world champions. Football writer Alex Truica was critical of Umtiti's part in the goal:

Alex Truica @AlexTruica

What a mistake by Umtiti that leads to Turkey scoring the 2nd goal.

The Barcelona defender also picked up a yellow card after clattering into Burak Yilmaz in a challenge that angered the Turkish players.

Umtiti has endured a difficult season with Barcelona after missing 28 games in total with knee injuries. He returned to fitness at the end of the season but lost his place in the Barcelona starting XI to Clement Lenglet, making just 15 total appearances across the season.

Deschamps has preferred Umtiti to Lenglet for France's games against Bolivia and now Turkey, but he could now decide to make changes for Tuesday's game against Andorra.

Meanwhile, Varane produced an error-strewn performance that could have led to more Turkey goals:

Jeremy Smith @jeremysmith98

Lloris with two excellent saves in quick succession to prevent it going 3-0. The first after another Varane mistake. This is so bad it's surreal. The whole team playing like they don't care.

Both centre-backs' performances made manager Didier Deschamps' decision to overlook Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte once again even more baffling.

Football writer David Cartlidge explained why Laporte is not in the France squad:

David Cartlidge @davidjaca

@SNevin72 Deschamps will only ever pick two left-footers & two right-footers at centre back in any squad. Lenglet and Umtiti currently occupy both left slots. Secondly, Laporte's attitude at youth level and from Deschamps sources has been questioned. Seen as arrogant, impersonal.

Yet Saturday's performance showed that it is time for Deschamps to bring Laporte back into the squad to fix his team's defensive shortcomings.

The 25-year-old is a commanding presence in the heart of defence, excellent in possession and would bring the authority that was sorely missed against Turkey.

The centre-back has become a key player for Manchester City since joining from Athletic Bilbao and played a major role in their Premier League title win this season, as highlighted by Opta:

Opta @OptaSuit

.@TimesSport have used Opta data to illustrate the remarkable passing record of @Laporte and his importance to @ManCity's @premierleague title charge this season. https://t.co/RjKJcrdwgX. Distributor. https://t.co/5nTZZJ7TMQ

Laporte is arguably France's best centre-back, and Deschamps' continued refusal to call him up is hurting his team.


What's Next?

France continue their qualifying campaign away at Andorra on Tuesday, while Turkey are also in qualifying action against Iceland in Reykjavik.