German coach Joachim Low is grinning. He will face Turkey in the semi-final of the Euro’s, not Croatia. Turkey pounced on a strong Croatia team to steal victory in miraculous fashion. Croatia thought they had won, but the last play of the game and penalties doomed the Croats to an early exit. Turkish fans are ecstatic after their second straight comeback win, but the Germans are the true victors on the night.
Turkey, although they are through to the semi-finals, are decimated by injuries and suspensions. Emre Asik, Arda Turan, Tuncay Sanli, Volkan Demirel, (assuming his appeal of his suspension is denied) and Nihat (possible injury) all are unavailable for their semi-final clash against Germany. It took a full strength squad (and some luck) to dispatch the Czech’s and they seem to have used up their resources against the Croats.
Germany were the favorites going into competition, but their loss to Croatia relegated them in many eyes to having an outside chance at winning the competition. They went on to prove that they were actually a contender by dispatching a talented Portugal.
As great as Turkey’s two miraculous wins were, the absence of five key players will be tough to overcome for the Turks. Where will the goals come from if Arda Turan, Tuncay Sanli, and Nihat are all unavailable? Fatih Terim will ponder that exact question in the upcoming days.
The Turks have been in scintillating form towards the end of their past two games, but will that streak last? It took last minute efforts to beat the Czech’s and the Croats, but the Germans will be wary of the explosive capabilities of the Turks. There’s a phrase that says “The third time is the charm” and it will be difficult for the Turks to replicate their feats of their last two games. Some might say that the Turks were lucky to even be in the semi-finals and their claims are justifiable.
It took a once in a lifetime drop by Peter Cech for Turkey to advance to the knockout stages. It took a miraculous last second goal to force penalties against Croatia, and if more luck is needed against Germany, I am not sure it will come again.
The last major concern for the Turks is Volkan Demeril’s suspension. Demeril was solid throughout the group stage, but his meaningless red card at the end of their final group match meant he had to serve a two game suspension. Turkey is appealing the suspension; so hopefully, Demeril will play in the semi-final. If not, the Turks are in trouble. Rustu Recber, the backup keeper was to put it kindly, unreliable, awful, and erratic. His inability to position himself, judge whether or not he could reach balls, and his poor sense of danger should have cost Turkey the game.
Croatia’s goal was purely Recber’s poor decision making. Croatia did not make Turkey pay for Recber’s awful decision making and that ultimately cost them the game. The Germans are known for their finishing abilities and if Recber strays from goal, the Germans will not waste their chances. Turkish aspirations of advancing to the finals rest on Demeril’s appeal. If he does not play, Turkey will be in serious trouble.
I’m not counting out Turkey. There has been something spectacular about the heart and passion they play with. The path they’ve taken is one out of a Hollywood script. I’ve learned that you can never count out a team that wins out of shear will and determination. My bet is still on the Germans, but once in a while, a Cinderella story does come true.