When you get to the semi final of a major tournament, you need your best players available to assist you in the task in front of you. You’re facing one of the most consistent international sides of the last 50 years, a side whose reputation is forged in steel and who have reached 10 international finals in those 50 years. What you do not need is to only have 14 players, two of whom are goalkeepers, fit enough to play.
Tonight this is the size of the task facing Turkey. It is no understatement to say that if Turkey win here tonight, they will have pulled off the most miraculous win in football history.Coach Fatih Terim has worked wonders in these championships with substitutions and tactical changes that have seen his side come back from the dead in 3 successive matches but they face a very different opponent tonight. Germany thrive on international competition, the cut and thrust of world class football and they have shown once again that you write them off at your peril.
After defeat to Croatia, they looked to heading for a humiliating defeat to Portugal in the knock out stages, but once again they proved their class at this level.In the Quarter Finals they tactically outclassed Portugal and made them look ordinary, beating them with a game plan focussing on finely tuned set pieces that left the Portuguese clueless in defense. Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric blaming Chelsea and Real Madrid, Germany beat Portugal with a game plan and it’s as simple as that. Germany are unchanged from the side that started against Portugal so Podolski and Klose start up front, with Schweinsteiger keeping his place in midfield.
I expect them to set off at a high tempo to try and push any aching and patched up Turkish muscles to breaking point as early as possible and then turn the screw.Germany know that they’ll never have an easier time to play Turkey than tonight, but sometimes when things become so heavily weighted toward one side, strange things can happen in football. Turkey must feel unbeatable at the moment. They know that until the very last second of any game now, they can still pull something out the bag. As soon as Semih equalised in the 120th minute against Croatia, they were through.
Croatia were out on the floor, shell-shocked by the late goal and couldn’t pull themselves up in the ensuing penalty shoot out. This game will require nerves of steel from the Turks and they’ll be giving passion by the bucket load in this match. What is crucial is that they don’t suffer anymore injuries. 4 of the players on the bench aren’t fit, so any Turkish players that go down can only be replaced by one of three subs. We could see third choice goalkeeper Tolga Zengin play out of position in field. What odds on him to pop up and score the winner in the last minute?Whatever happens tonight, Turkey should be congratulated on their fighting spirit and attitude in these championships.
I just hope that the lack of fit players doesn’t cost them too much at this point of the competition when they need quality the most. Let’s hope we have a match to fit this part of the tournament and a game to savour.