Comeback kings Turkey face the stiffest test of their Euro 2008 campaign when they meet Germany in Basel in the first semifinal. Turkey have nine players either injured or suspended, and the situation is so bad that their third choice keeper might be used as an outfield substitute.
Despite drawing flak for the way they played in the group stages, Germany silenced their critics with a win over highly fancied Portugal in the quarterfinals. Coach Joachim Loew must decide on whether to stick with the 4-5-1 that he went with against Portugal or revert back to the 4-4-2/ The former, with Thomas Hitzlsperger and Simon Rolfes in it, gave Michael Ballack more freedom to go forward. And against a depleted Turkish defence, Loew might think of doing the same. Mario Gomez has had a horror tournament, and is unlikely to get any more chances. Torsten Frings seems to be on the road to recovery with his broken rib, and might figure in this game. The Germans will be high on confidence, and know that they will be expected to win this one.
Turkey pulled out last gasp wins against Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Turkey to come here after losing to Portugal in their initial game. Credit for masterminding this must go to Fatih Terim, but even the Emperor may not be able to orchestrate a win against Germany. With Arda Turan, Emre Asik and Sanli Tuncay getting themselves booked against Croatia, Turkey will have to do without them. There is a defensive crisis of sorts- Asik suspended, Gungor injured and Cetin doubtful. So the burden is likely to fall on the shoulders of Gokhan Zan. Tumer Metin might be forced to play for a few minutes despite his injury, as Turkey are short on options. Mehmet Aurelio returns after a one match ban, while Volkan serves the second of his two match ban. Star striker and skipper Nihat Kahveci is definitely out of this tournament, and that is a big blow. Emre Belozoglu is doing light training, although the chances of him starting are extremely low. We’ll probably see Mevlut Erdinc partner Semih Senturk upfront.
The Turkish run will probably end here. Although several Turkish players ply their trade in the Bundesliga- Hamit Altintop for example, Germany look too strong. Injuries and suspensions have taken a heavy toll on Turkey. Germany to record their first win against Turkey since 1992. A 3-1 to Germany, with Ballack, Klose, Senturk and Lahm on the scoresheet.