Turkey coach Fatih Terim will need some ingenuity just to put a healthy team on the field when his squad faces Germany in the semifinals of the European Championships today.
Terim’s lineup has been decimated by injuries and suspensions. Up to nine regular first-choice players could be out, depending on some late fitness checks.
In such circumstances, the hopes for an upset look very slim. Germany coach Joachim Loew has a full-strength squad to choose from for today’s match (TSN, 2 p.m.) in Basel after midfielder Torsten Frings recovered sufficiently from a broken rib. But Loew has coached in Turkey and has warned his players about the passion in Turkey’s game.
German captain Michael Ballack expects a “very strong” Turkish team despite the depleted team’s injuries and suspensions.
“They know how to adjust to opponents and that shows they are very strong mentally,” Ballack said yesterday at Germany’s training base before the team’s departure for Basel.
“Their coach knows how to motivate them and they will be a very uncomfortable opponent. Hats off to them for reaching the semifinal, but we shouldn’t overestimate them either.”
Germany has won 11 matches against Turkey, drawn three and lost three. But the Germans have lost two of the last three games and drawn the other.
After staging three amazing comebacks to reach the semifinals, even an injury-ravaged Turkey will be confident heading into the game, Loew said.
“All teams in the semifinals have a certain class. I know Turkish players and the conditions there from my own experience,” Loew said. “They become euphoric, especially if things are going their way. They have national pride, very high morale and they play until the end, the very last minute. It will be very hard.
“I’ll warn my players that Turks believe until the end that they can win the game.”
Turkey equalized against Croatia with the last kick of the quarter-final game. Having gone behind in the 119th minute, Turkey still went on to win the penalty shootout.
“They never give up,” Loew said. “They always believe they can turn it around. Some people did not expect them to come back but they have incredible morale.”
Loew said Turkey in a way was a more difficult team than highly fancied Portugal, which Germany beat 3-2 in the quarter-finals.
“The Portuguese were easier to figure out. The Turks are more creative and don’t stick to their positions so much,” Loew said.
Germany is seeking a record fourth title.
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