Tomorrow’s Euro semifinal sees three-time champions Germany face tournament dark horse Turkey. Both teams notched impressive victories against their quarterfinals opponents: Germany applied surprisingly defensive tactics and precision striking in their 3-2 win over Portugal, while Turkey pulled off yet another last gasp effort to equalize late in stoppage time against Croatia and went on to win the ensuing penalty shootout 3-1.
For Turkey, what is most important tomorrow is that they keep their winning mentality. They go into tomorrow’s match as underdogs to begin with, and having only 12 available and fully fit outfield players will not help their chances, especially if the match goes into extra time. However, their injuries and suspensions may not be such a great detriment to the Turks as one might think. The Turks never were the most technically talented team in the tournament, but their desire to win is arguably the greatest of all the teams competing at Euro 2008. Their lack of selection and underdog status will likely motivate the Turks even further, and we can expect them to give their all. If they are able to muster up every last ounce of courage and desire, Turkey could win this match and, for the first time, reach a major tournament final.
The Germans enter tomorrow’s match suffering from a bit of an identity crisis. In the group stage, they featured a 4-4-2 formation that had success in the first and third matches, but was ineffective against a Croat team that flooded the midfield with players. In each of these matches, the Germans had less striking success than expected, and against the fast and technically gifted Portuguese, a more defensive 4-5-1 was employed to great effect. Against the Turks, Germany will want to come out with their best offense (most likely facilitated by a 4-4-2 formation) and score many goals as early as possible. They cannot be content to simply dominate the flow of play: Croatia did so against Turkey and lost in the quarterfinals. Rather, the key is to match the Turkish intensity throughout the entire match (all 90 or 120 minutes) and demoralize the Turks. The strength of the Turks’ game is mental: if they ever feel desperate, they are certain to lose. For this reason, Germany must take advantage of their opportunities just as they did against Portugal. If, however, the match is held scoreless, the Turks will gain more and more confidence as time goes by and they will become the unbeatable force we’ve seen make 3 comeback victories in the tournament thus far. So, for Germany, the keys are to be just as sharp in finishing as they were against Portugal and never stop fighting, even in the closing seconds of the match.
Tomorrow we can expect another passionate performance from both Germany and Turkey. I’m going to have to tip this one to the Germans because their desire to win is at least similar to that of the Turks, and their razor-sharp finishing against Portugal set them apart in this tournament.
Prediction: Germany 2-0 Turkey