Spain brace for Turk passion
© AFP

With Easter only a fortnight away, the whole of Spain is preparing to experience the passion of Holy Week. It is perhaps fitting then that Fatih Terim's Turkey side are in town for a vital Group 5 match against the European champions.

Passion is a quality Turkish sides rarely lack, and it should ensure that Saturday's showdown in Madrid is quite a spectacle. Both Spain's inspirational goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Turkey's naturalised Brazilian midfielder Mehmet Aurelio are certainly expecting nothing less, as they tell FIFA.com

"It will be a difficult game," they both replied when asked for their views on the game, an indication of the mutual respect between the two sides ahead of back-to-back meetings that will have a major bearing on who qualifies automatically for South Africa 2010.

At the moment it is Spain who hold the advantage, having won all four of their matches to date to top the section. And as captain Casillas points out, the Spanish are intent on keeping that run going against their Turkish visitors.

They've got an almost crazy way of playing and that's dangerous because you really don't know what you're up against
Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas on Turkey's style

"There are only four points between the two sides," he says. "There's no doubt in our mind that Turkey are the toughest team in the group and we know that if we can pick up four points in these two games, we can take a giant step to the finals. If we can get all six, then we'll have all but qualified. We shouldn't be complacent, though. The main thing is to win the home game and then see what we can do over there. Whatever happens, we'll be trying to get as many points as we can."

Aurelio, who plays his club football for Liga side Real Betis, shares those same objectives. Although the Spanish have gone two years without defeat, the former Fenerbahce man is hopeful he and his team-mates can put an end to that record. "They're the number one side in the world," he says. "They are a great side with some very important players and their strength is that they play as a team. They're compact and well balanced. We have our strengths too, though, and we need to be focused. They have lots of quality; we know that. But we can beat them."

"Turkey has a tremendous fighting spirit," he continues, outlining his side's recipe for success. "We always believe we can win and we have some good and very experienced players. Even so, our strong point is our self-confidence and belief. We showed that at the European Championships when we went behind in some really tough games and turned them around out of sheer determination."

Although Turkey were held to an unexpected goalless draw by Estonia in their previous match, Aurelio sees little cause for concern. "We played well. We dominated the game and created a lot of chances that we couldn't put away. All that was missing was a goal."

Film club
Vicente del Bosque's charges spent Friday morning watching tapes of tomorrow's opponents in action and analysing their strong points. Lesson over, Casillas spoke of his concern at the threat Turkey pose.

"They're a strange team because they look as if they're all over the place, as if they play without a specific formation. They always seem to create chances, though. They're very strong at the back and up front too and they're a bit unpredictable as well because they don't seem to have an obvious gameplan. They've got an almost crazy way of playing and that's dangerous because you really don't know what you're up against."

We always believe we can win and we have some good and very experienced players.
Turkey's Mehmet Aurelio ahead of the double header with Spain

"Memhet Aurelio knows the Spanish players and the Spanish game very well," adds team-mate Xavi after the video session. "They're a very competitive team and I'm sure they'll try and pack the midfield to stop us from playing."

Another Turkish star well known to the Spaniards is Villarreal's Nihat Kahveci. "Their front men are very quick and they're very dangerous on the break," acknowledges Casillas, whose job will be to keep the lethal finisher at bay, just one act in a two-part passion play that is sure to enthral the fans in Madrid and Istanbul.