Germany v Turkey - Euro 2008 Semifinal
Germany 3-2 Turkey (Germany: Schweinsteiger 26â€², Klose 78â€², Lahm 90â€², Turkey: Ugur Boral 22′, Semih Senturk 86′)
St. Jakob-Park, Basel
Wednesday 25 June 2008
Euro 2008 Semi Final #1
Kickoff: 20:45 CET, 19:45 GMT, 14:45 EST
Late goal specialists Turkey ran out of luck on a balmy night in Basel as Germany’s left-back Phillip Lahm stole the glory with a stunning injury time winner of his own. In truth it’s hard to believe that Germany have gone through to Sunday’s final because for the vast majority of this encounter they were played off the park by a Turkey side who performed brilliantly on the night.
Ugor Boral’s deserved goal midway through the first half was cancelled out by Schweinsteiger in Germany’s first serious attack. And then in the second half, two goalkeeping errors allowed Klose and then Semih to score — before Lahm’s magnificently dramatic late strike sealed a famous win.
Just four minutes after being ‘skinned’ by Sabri for Turkey’s 86th minute equaliser, Phillip Lahm atoned for his error by sending the German fans wild with a glorious winning goal. Surging down the left flank the Bayern Munich full-back played a classic one-two with Thomas Hitzlsperger, and as he continued his run found himself free inside the Turkey penalty area. With plenty of work still left to do, Lahm calmly dispatched a firm right foot strike powerfully into the near top corner to earn a famous victory and break Turkish hearts.
The impressive Lukas Podolski will be relieved that his first half miss didn’t cost Germany a place in the final. In a rare foray forward the Germans opened up Turkey on 33 minutes with Podolski racing through one on one with just Rustu Recber to beat. You expected a player of his class to hold his nerve but the Bayern Munich striker snatched at the opportunity — blazing a left foot shot high over Rustu’s crossbar and into hordes of joyful Turkish fans behind the goal.
Both goalkeepers were equally awful all night long. Jens Lehmann’s positioning was all at sea throughout, while Turkey’s stand in stopper Rustu Recber made puzzling decisions on more than one occasion. That said, Lehmann did produce a vital save in the 31st minute from a Hamit Altintop free-kick, albeit caused by his own wayward positioning! As he found himself in no man’s land Lehmann reacted quickly to leap high and tip over the curling strike with an outstretched left hand.
How Swiss referee Massimo Busacca failed to give Germany a penalty, or at least a free kick in the 50th minute was quite simply baffling. As TV replays clearly showed, Phillip Lahm was clattered at speed by a reckless Sabri challenge right on the line of the penalty box. It was as blatant a foul as we have seen all tournament and it was no surprise to see the entire German bench on their feet to berate the beleaguered fourth official for several minutes afterwards.
Jens Lehmann’s powder puff attempts to keep out Ugor Boral’s mishit 22nd minute goal wasn’t too clever but you have to say that Rustu Recber’s appalling (and failed) attempt to claim the cross which led to Miroslav Klose’s goal was an even bigger gaffe. With little danger presenting itself Recber made a calamitous decision to come out and catch a high left wing cross — but as he was standing BEHIND Klose it presented the German hit man with the easiest of free headers that dropped nicely into an empty net. How the Turks will be ruing the absence of their suspended first choice keeper Volkan now.
He endured a poor night as he was consistently torn apart by Kazim-Richards and Sabri down Germany’s left flank but Phillip Lahm was a genuine hero for scoring such a crucial goal in the final minute of this absorbing contest. With extra-time and the prospect of penalties looming the left-back took the game by the scruff of its neck to help his country reach Sunday’s final in Vienna. His disappointing performance for 89 minutes will all be forgotten thanks to that moment of brilliance that sealed the victory.
If Turkey had a better goalkeeper they would almost certainly be celebrating a famous win — but Rustu Recber has to be made culpable for his side’s unfortunate loss. His error for Miroslav Klose’s 79th minute goal was shocking and he did his side no favours at all by diving to the ground prematurely as Phillip Lahm faced him in the final minute — making the German’s decision on where to place his shot so much easier than it should have been. This will almost certainly have been his final appearance for his country.
THE TWO GAFFERS
Back on the bench after serving his touchline ban Joachim Loew will count himself a little fortunate to have guided his team through to the final on the evidence of this disjointed performance. For most of the game his side looked sluggish and appeared to concede territory to the Turks at will. Loew’s decision to employ four attackers in his starting XI paid off with three goals but defensively his team looked woeful at times. Once the celebrations die down Loew will have to analyse why so many things went wrong in Basel despite the win.
Fatih Terim has to be the coach of the tournament and he was desperately unlucky not to see his excellent tactics pay off against Germany. Outwitting Loew by ensuring his team played at a higher than expected tempo, Terim’s side held the upper hand for the vast majority of this clash. Brave, adventurous, and conjuring up a formidable team spirit, Fatih Terim deserves the plaudits for guiding Turkey to the last four.
Turkey’s Euro 2008 story is one of amazing spirit, odds-defying comebacks and injury troubles that might as well hand their opponents the semi-final tie. As Max Zeger suggests, Turkey’s incredible win against Croatia gives Germany a significant advantage going into the semifinals.
Not only will the Germans have an extra day to prepare for the final, they’ll also have to play a battered and bruised Turkey side (as opposed to the rich-in-depth Croatians). But if the odds seemed stacked against Turkey, there’s hope that the momentum built through their progression to the semifinals on the back of victories against the Czechs and the Croats will carry them through to the final.
One thing is certain – the Turkey side Fatih Terim puts out on Wednesday will need to press forward and be positive to stand a chance against Germany. If Turkey sit back play with 10 men behind the ball, Germany have the quality to murder them. Pushing the Germans and forcing them to adapt their game-plan is Turkey’s best chance of winning the semifinal. That being said, the only reason Turkey have a chance is because their opponents haven’t exactly set the stage alight with their performances so far in Switzerland.
Germany have been a shadow of the 2006 World Cup side that made the semifinals that year but have still found enough quality to rise to the occasion and win games when it matters. The Croatia game aside, Germany have been reliable and effective – players have produced the goods when asked (Schweinsteiger and Ballack being the most recent examples while up front Podolski has chipped in with crucial goals throughout the tournament.
Against Portugual Germany managed to adapt their game to nullify and overpower their opponents, but Turkey will pose a different set of problems and a potential banana-skin that Joachim Low will be wary of, considering that Germany have conceded late goals in semifinals before (remember the Italian Job?) and Turkey have defied odds and reason to secure late goals and crucial wins for successive games.
Still, Low, Ballack and co have it easy. Score early, get a 2-goal advantage by the 45th minute and then play on the counter. It sounds quite simple, doesn’t it? However, with the way ‘favourites’ have stumbled this tournament (Portugal, France, Netherlands, Croatia, Italy), there’s always a chance Turkey will squeak through. A very slim chance, made slimmer with the injuries and suspensions sustained by Turkey (they have 9 out of 23 players (many of their better players) unavailable for the semifinal).
Soccerlens will be back after the game with the match report and video highlights.
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