Germany (Schweinsteiger 26′, Klose 78′, Lahm 90′) 3-2 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
Germany advanced to the Euro 2008 Finals with a thrilling 3-2 victory against upset-minded Turkey.
Soccerlens live-blogged the event. Click below for the commentary.
The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Croatia. What do these teams have in common? All these teams clinched spots in the Quarterfinals after their second Group Phase match, and as a result, rested some of their key players during their final, meaningless Group match. So what happened in the Quarterfinals? The Netherlands looked lethargic and was thoroughly outplayed by a talented Russia team. Portugal was dismantled by Germany in a match that wasn’t nearly as close as the final 3-2 score indicated. Croatia and Spain were kept out of the goal for the entirety of regulation, and both teams eventually went to shootouts with their respective opponents.
Each of these group winners had to answer questions about whether it was wise to rest their players for the last group match and whether the layoff affected them in the Quarterfinals. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. Either way, we can be sure that managers will continue to rest their key players after clinching early. Why? Because they could end up like Turkey.
Turkey comes into this match with nine players who are either injured or suspended, including skipper Emre Belozoglu, top strikers Tuncay Sanli and Nihat Kahveci, rising star Arda Turan, and goalkeeper Volkan Demirel (who was suspended for two matches, but whose transgression surely merited the same one-match suspension that Bastian Schweinsteiger received for his red card against Croatia). Ask head coach Fatih Terim whether he’d rather have too many players who are rested or whether he’d rather be scrambling for healthy bodies to put on the field, he’d be lying if he said he’d prefer the latter over the former. Still, Turkey has plenty of talent and Germany would be foolish to overlook this match. After all, we all know what Turkey can do in the closing minutes of a match.
German coach Joachim Loew has said that if his team plays the way they did against Portugal, then they’ll be hard to beat, and it’s hard to dispute him on that point. Germany absolutely dominated Portugal and showed the world why they were the pre-tournament favorite to win the championship. Their key players are playing well (other than Torsten Frings, who remains questionable with a rib injury, and Mario Gomez, who seems to have forgotten how to score), and seem to be full of confidence. After lackluster performances against Croatia and Austria, Germany put forth their best effort of the Euros against Portugal and seem to be peaking at the right time. If Germany is starting to play up to their potential, then they will be hard for anyone to beat.
That being said, if they’re sitting on a 2-nil lead, I can guarantee you that no one in Germany will be breathing easy until the ref blows that final whistle.
Germany: Lehmann, Friedrich, Mertesacker, Metzelder, Lahm, Hitzlesperger, Rolfes, Schweinsteiger, Ballack (captain), Podolski, Klose.
Subs: Enke, Adler, Jansen, Fritz, Westermann, Frings, Gomez, Neuville, Trochowski, Borowski, Odonkor, Kuryani.
The Germans start with the same lineup that they used against Portugal. However, it looks like they’ll use Lahm on the right side, Hitzlesperger and Rolfes as holders, Schweinsteiger and Podolski on the wings, and Klose as the sole targetman. It bears watching whether Lahm, who’s been a revolving door of sorts on the flank, continues his struggles against the likes of Kazim Kazim and Sabri Sarioglu. Frings might be available, although he’s suffering from a broken rib.
Turkey: Rustu (captain), Sabri Sarioglu, Mehmet Topal, Gokhan Zan, Hakan Balta, Aurelio, Kazim Kazim, Hamit Altintop, Ayhan Akman, Ugur Boral, Semih Senturk.
Subs: Tolga Zengin, Servet Cetin, Fehmi Emre Gungor, Gokdeniz Karadeniz, Tumer Metin, Belozoglu Emre, Nihat Kahveci, Mevlut Erding.
I have no idea whether to go with just first names, first-and-last-names, or just last names. So, we’ll go with first names, except for Mehmet and Hakan since they’re fairly common names. Let’s see how that works out. The Turks start out in a 4-5-1 with Aurelio protecting the back-line and Semih as the sole targetman. I’d expect these guys to play most of the game, given their roster situation. Even that subs list is fairly optimistic for Turkey. Nihat, Belozoglu, and Fehmi are out while Servet and Tumer are going to be limited, if they feature at all.
0′ Don’t worry. There will be no Tommy Smyth-style puns on the name “Turkey.” That means no “Turkey looks like they’re cooked” or “Stick a fork in Turkey, they’re done!” if they’re losing; nor will there be any “Germany is getting served… with Turkey!” or “Germany is looking like a giant Turkey!” if the Turks are winning.
0′ By the way, there’s been a lot of criticism of Julie Foudy’s commentary. A lot of it is fair, but I don’t think she’s nearly as bad as Eric Wynalda. After all, Julie Foudy never said, with a straight face, that Petr Cech wasn’t in the same league as Kasey Keller (like Wynalda did during the World Cup). Not sure what league Eric was talking about. The Little League, maybe?
0′ Here come the teams. Ballack is smiling and looks pretty confident and relaxed. Will Turkey wipe that smile off his face? Time will tell…
0′ We start with the Turkish anthem. I’ve never heard “Istiklal Marsi” before, so this will be interesting. The Turks seem kind of subdued. Maybe they’re about to hit wall, emotionally? At this point, I’ve heard “Das Deutschlandlied” so many times, I think I can sing part of it. That would put me one-up on Podolski, who never sings the anthem with the rest of his teammates. There are a lot of Germans in attendance, so this could turn into a de facto home game for them. As if they needed any more advantages.
0′ The captains each make a statement against racism in the football. Probably a good idea, especially given the geopolitical and cultural implications of this match.
0′ The Germans kick off and we’re under way!
2′ The Germans seem to be setting up in an advanced position. They want to score early and put the pressure on the Turks.
5′ Ugur with a nice cross into the box, but it eludes Semih and Kazim Kazim. Sabri sends another good cross into the box that Schweinsteiger has to clear.
6′ Kazim Kazim with the long range shot that Lehmann has no problem with. Not a great choice by Kazim Kazim. He had options on either side of him.
7′ Wow. Lahm with a mistake that Altintop nearly takes advantage of. He’s got a clear shot on goal, but Lehmann with the fine foot save. Well, the Turks have been aggressive, rather than just sitting back and protecting the goal.
11′ Great run by Ugur down the left flank. He tries the cross, but it’s cleared by Metzelder. Well, the Turks came to play today. And so far, the Germans haven’t been able to get into the flow of things.
12′ Wow! Two chances for Turkey! Kazim Kazim has a great shot after the Germans fail to clear it properly. He sends a rocket that beats Lehmann easily, but bounces off the crossbar. Then Balta sends a beautiful cross into the box for Semih, but Semih’s sliding kick is just wide of the mark.
13′ Corner is cleared by Germany, but Schweinsteiger’s poor touch results in another corner for Turkey.
14′ Great service by Balta to Ayhan who can’t bring the ball down from his chest to his foot. Otherwise, he would have been clear to the goal. Wow. Germany looks rattled.
16′ Germany gets a free kick as Klose is fouled. It’s a little far from the box, but Schweinsteiger made things happen from that distance in the last match. Nothing doing here, though. Schweinsteiger then steals it from Balta, but loses the ball just outside the box. He dives forward, looking to draw the foul, but there is no help from the refs.
17′ Lahm with the cross into the box for Ballack, who has a great opportunity for the header. Ballack is well marked, though, and he can’t get enough force on it. Should have gone for the push again, Michael.
18′ Podolski with the poor through-ball that isn’t even close to Klose.
19′ Ballack sends another over-the-top pass to Klose that’s a little better but still off the mark. The Germans need to get it together.
22′ GOAL!! Semih’s shot hits the bar and bounces to Ugur. Ugur shoots it and Lehmann gets a hand on it, but can’t hold on. Wow! Turks deservedly go in front, but I have to say, Lehmann should have had that one.
25′ Turkey gets a corner after Metzelder deflects it out. Altintop sends it in to Aurelio, who heads it towards Semih, who’s running towards the goal. It’s behind him, though, otherwise that could have been 2-nil.
26′ GOAL! Schweinsteiger answers for Germany as Podolski sends in a nice pass to Schweinsteiger, who pokes it past Rustu. What a game!
28′ Schweinsteiger is fouled outside the box, and Germany has a free kick. Hitzlsperger’s kick is cleared, but Germany gets a throw-in. Promising German attack is snuffed out after Rolfes’ pass to Lahm is easily intercepted. Back the other way as the Turks counter-attack. Sabri sends a cross to Semih, but Semih’s header is weak and easily taken by Lehmann.
29′ Klose with a nice move in the box and sends a cross towards goal. Gokhan knocks it out for the corner. Schweinsteiger’s corner is knocked away by Balta.
31′ Turkey wins a free kick as Semih is fouled by Rolfes. Altintop with an optimistic free kick, but Lehmann comes out too far and has to backtrack to make the save. Nearly a horrendous howler by Lehmann! Well, it wouldn’t be the first time. On the ensuing corner, Lehmann comes out again to punch it away. He can’t send it far enough, though, and Turkey gets a chance on goal. Ugur’s shot is weak and not even Lehmann will screw that one up.
33′ Good chance for the Germans as Podolski with a great run down the right. He sends a good shot on goal, but it’s over the cross bar. Bad defensive breakdown by the Turks. Podolski was completely unmarked there. How do you lose track of that guy?
36′ Lahm fouls Kazim Kazim on the edge of the box. Interesting opportunity for Turkey here.
37′ Free kick for Turkey and Ugur sends in a screamer that Lehmann has no choice but to punch away. The announcers are getting on him for not hitting it far enough, but that ball had so much pace on it that Lehmann barely had time to react.
39′ There will be blood! Ayhan and Rolfes crack heads and both guys are bleeding. Ayhan in the back of the head while Rolfes has a nasty cut above his eye. Ugly.
40′ Turkey on the attack. Kazim Kazim’s shot is blocked but it drops to Topal. Topal and Altintop do the one-two that nearly sends Altintop clear through to the goal. What a great chance for Turkey!
41′ Long distance shot by Sabri that just barely goes over the crossbar. Wow!
42′ Podolski is running down the right flank again, but he gets tackled by Gokhan before he can do anything.
43′ Frings is about to come on for Rolfes, who is still down on the sidelines. Altintop cuts to the left, creates space, and takes the shot just outside the box. Not enough space, though, as his shot is easily blocked.
44′ Guess I spoke too soon. Rolfes will stay on for the time being. Meanwhile, Turkey takes a free kick from about 39 meters away. It’s easily cleared by Germany, though.
45′ One minute of added time. Podolski sends it to Ballack, but Ayhan takes it away. That’s the first half and we’re at intermission.
Well, raise your hands if you expected Turkey to completely outplay Germany in the first half. What can you say? Turkey deserves to be one or two goals ahead, but find themselves level because of a bad defensive breakdown and a moment of brilliance from Schweinsteiger. I half-expected the Turks to sit back, but it makes sense why they played aggressively. After all, what’s the point in letting Germany pick them apart with their passing and offensive skills? Might as well take it to them and maybe rattle their cages a little. We’ll see if that approach works in the second half.
45′ We’re having some technical difficulties. Hopefully it will be cleared soon.
45′ Frings comes on for Rolfes. Turkey kicks off and we’re underway with the second half. Schweinsteiger makes a run into the box, but the Turks are there to stop him.
46′ Podolski with a great run down the left flank. He seems to be having his way with Sabri down that left side.
48′ Altintop is dragged down by Lahm outside the box. The announcers are surprised he wasn’t booked for that, and frankly, so am I.
49′ Ugur sends in a cross, but it’s easy pickings for Lehmann.
50′ Lahm with a great run into the box, and he goes down in the box! No penalty, though. I didn’t think it was a penalty, but I’ll reserve judgment until I see the replay. Now you know how tough the ref’s job is. They don’t get replay. Sabri hit Lahm with a knee and wasn’t going for the ball at all. Yep. Should have been a penalty.
52′ Semih gets a yellow for a bad tackle on Frings. Pretty well-behaved match, so far. First card comes at 52 minutes in.
54′ Friedrich with a good run down the right, but Topal knocks the cross away. Schweinsteiger comes back with another cross into the box, but Gokhan knocks it away. Podolski gets it and gives it to Hitzlsperger. His shot is over the crossbar, though, and the Turks can breath easier.
56′ Ballack with a good run towards the box, and he gets taken down by Altintop right outside the box. Great opportunity for Germany here.
57′ This is well within Ballack’s range. He hits it right into the wall, though. Poor effort by the captain. Now, we’re having technical difficulties with the television coverage. Ugh! I guess the hamster that was running on the wheel that was powering ESPN’s cameras finally gave out. With our luck, we’ll miss the go-ahead goal.
64′ And we’re back! Looks like lightning hit the stadium that took out TV coverage. Not sure if that’s a divine sign or anything. It did happen right as Germany started playing well. Hmm…
66′ Sabri gets free deep on the right side of the box. He sends in a cross, but no one is there for Turkey. He beat Lahm like a red headed step child right there.
68′ Turkey gets a corner. Gokhan sends it in, but the Germans clear it away.
69′ Kazim Kazim goes down a little too easily in the box. Lahm does pull his jersey a little, but Kazim was clearly acting there.
71′ Apparently, Ayhan has run nearly 9 kilometers so far. I wonder how they figure this stuff out. Do they have those biorhythm things on all the players?
72′ Ugur cuts into the box, beats Friedrich, and sends a shot into the Lehmann. Unfortunately, it’s with his weaker foot, and Lehmann isn’t bothered by the shot. That’s the second time Ugur has gone to the weaker foot. Back the other way, Hitzlsperger with the long-range effort that just curls wide of the mark.
74′ Ballack gets the ball and sends it to Hitzlsperger. Promising sequence is short-circuited by Hitzlesperger’s poor pass behind Podolski. Loew might want to think about bringing on Gomez or Kuryani for Hitzlesperger or Klose. Neither of them have done anything today.
76′ Dammit! More technical difficulties from ESPN. Ugh! Someone give that hamster some water!
79′ GOAL! Klose scores for Germany. I wish I could tell you more, but the picture is still out. I knew this was going to happen. I’m going to go bang my head against the wall. We’re getting the replay now. Lahm sent in a great cross into the box. Rustu came charging out of the box but didn’t get close to the ball. Klose then nodded it in.
86′ GOAL! Sabri sends a cross from deep down the right flank and Semih slides it past Lehmann. Ugh!! I can’t believe I missed two goals! I’m going to kill someone! Apparently, Sabri victimized Lahm again. And Lehmann should have done better with that shot. Goalkeepers shouldn’t get beaten near post like that.
90′ GOAL! Wow! Lahm with a great run into the box. He gives it to Hitzlsperger on the edge of the box. Hitzlsperger one-touches it back to Lahm, and Lahm makes amends for getting beaten like a rug on the last goal! What a brilliant play by Lahm. I’ve been hard on him (and with good reason), but that was a great run and an even better strike. And, what happens after the goal? We lose the picture again. There’s going to be a riot in Berlin, Istanbul, or both.
90′ Apparently, there’s three minutes of added time. Oh wait! Now, it’s over. This is a freaking travesty. I’m not emotionally invested in this match, and I want to break something. I can only imagine how people in Germany and Turkey feel.
According to ESPN.com, Turkey had two chances to tie it in extra time. Gokdeniz (who came on as a sub for Ugur in the 84th minute) sent a cross to Semih, who couldn’t get his head on it. Then, in the 93rd minute, Ballack gave away a free kick outside the box. Tumer Metin (who had come on for Kazim Kazim in the 90th minute) sent the free kick over the bar. Do we get to see any of this though? No. When ESPN’s coverage resumes, we get footage of Germany celebrating. How about catching us up on the action? Ugh. I’m so pissed off right now.
Well, Germany did not deserve to win that match. Turkey showed heart and courage and nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent history. The Turks had Germany on its heels. They missed a number of great opportunities in the first half, otherwise, they might have gotten the victory that they clearly deserved. You can’t say enough about how well this undermanned Turkey team played one of the top teams in the world. They almost forced extra time when Semih got the equalizer, but it was not to be. Still, you have to tip your hats to the Turks and give them credit for a job well done.
Unfortunately, credit doesn’t mean much since they’re out of the tournament. Germany advances to the Finals despite being outplayed. Ballack disappeared, Klose was a nonfactor until his goal, the defense continued show cracks, and Jens Lehmann seemed like he was intent on playing goal with both hands around his neck. Schweinsteiger had his moments, but went through long periods of time where he was a nonfactor. Lahm had the great goal, but his defensive deficiencies continue to hurt Germany. Do the Germans stand a chance against the Spaniards or the Russians? Not if they play like this.
Then again, they can take heart in the fact that they won even though they played poorly. Great teams always do that. Are they a great team? I guess we’ll find out in a few days…
Man of the Match
That’s right. I chose someone on the losing side. I honestly can’t think of a German player who played well enough to deserve the Man of Match honor. The closest would be Schweinsteiger, who scored Germany’s first goal and made a number of good runs into the box. Still, he went for long stretches of time where he was completely invisible. Klose’s goal was nice, but he was even more invisible until that happened. Meanwhile, Semih Senturk had another great game and, along with Sabri Sarioglu, terrorized Germany’s defense all night. Semih made a number of great runs into the box and made things happen for his team. He had a hand in both Turkish goals and he was this close to forcing yet another overtime match for the Turks. It’s too bad he didn’t succeed.