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Fatih too thin on troops for glory PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 June 2008

The Turks already represent the most extraordinary story of this tournament, and not just because they have somehow progressed to the semi-finals after leading for just nine minutes of the four matches they have so far contested, reports Mail.Online.

And not just because they possess the same fighting spirit that enabled Manchester United to lift the European Cup in 1999.

They have somehow progressed to tonight's meeting with Germany in Basle with a team not only lacking the ability of their fellow Euro 2008 quarter-finalists but one which has been decimated by injury and suspension.

Coach Fatih Terim had to prepare for Friday's remarkable encounter with Croatia here in the absence of six players and there were yet more casualties by the time his side had won their penalty shoot-out.

Tuncay Sanli, Arda Turan and Emre Asik have been lost to suspension, Emre Gungor and the excellent Nihat Kahveci are out of the tournament with injury and Servit Cetin, Tumer Metin and Emre Belozoglu are struggling to climb off the treatment table.

Add to that the fact that goalkeeper Volkan Demirel is also suspended and Terim could be selecting from as few as 15 players this evening.

The situation is so bad that Terim has said his third-choice goalkeeper Tolga Zengin may have to come on at some point against Germany as an emergency centre forward and Colin Kazim-Richards, the Londonborn former Sheffield United, Bury and Brighton forward who now plays for Fenerbahce, will almost certainly start.

Terim, otherwise known as 'The Emperor', remains confident his team can continue to draw on those seemingly bottomless reserves of resilience.

' We have shown several times already that we can achieve the impossible,' he said. But surely this time, against a Germany team now being hailed as the finest in almost 20 years, Terim is asking too much.

Surely the Germans will stop the irrepressible Turks from reaching their first major tournament final. Driven forward by the majestic Michael Ballack, the Germans did look magnificent against Portugal.

Coach Joachim Loew might have considered his future after three difficult first-round matches which included a defeat to Croatia, but a slight change of tactics and suddenly the performance in Basle last Thursday was being described as Germany's finest since the 1990 World Cup.

That is some claim, given how impressive Jurgen Klinsmann and his colleagues were at times during Euro 96.

The key to their success, explained UEFA's chief technical director Andy Roxburgh, was what Loew did with Chelsea's German midfielder.

Against Portugal, Ballack was moved into the "free spirit role" playing up front and suddenly - boom!' said Roxburgh. It was impressive, a combination of Ballack's surging runs from midfield and the pace and penetration of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski on the flanks proving too much for Luiz Felipe Scolari's poorly organised defence.

For Ballack, tonight represents a chance to appear in a final for his country at last. He missed out on the 2002 World Cup Final because of suspension - having scored the goal against South Korea that got them there - and two years ago he was part of the Germany side who lost to Italy in the semi-finals.

Yesterday he appeared confident that his chance to play in a final was about to come. 'Portugal were treated as the big favourites,' he said. 'When you knock this team out of the tournament in such a way, then that gives us immense selfbelief.

That was exactly the game we needed at this stage of the tournament.

'The hardest phase of the tournament has been weathered. I sense lots of positives but also a certain calmness. I have the feeling that we will not play another game like we did against Croatia. 'We expect a very close game against Turkey, even though we know they are missing a lot of players through injury and suspension. But they have shown a never-say-die attitude.

Their mental strength is a major factor.' Perhaps so, but tonight it is unlikely to be enough.

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