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Lets all welcome Germany as the first qualifier for the Euro 2008 Final after surviving the refuse-to-die Turkey, 3-2
. I didn’t get to watch a whole lot of the stream but what I did see easily qualifies as great soccer/football/futbol. When Turkey opened the game by scoring first, it was easy to see they were not even entertaining the thought of backing down from the Germans, roster shortcomings be damned.
Germany quickly equalized after Turkey pulled ahead off of a cheeky deflection/shot courtesy of a brilliant cross from Lukas Podolski. The first half finished with both teams tied and stayed that way until the 79th minute when Miroslav Klose tucked away the ball with a well-placed header. When Germany took the 2-1 lead, many had to think that was the deflating blow that will end Turkey’s run.
Not so fast, my friends.
The you-are-going-to-have-remove-us-from-the-field Turkish tied the game again with deft finish from Semih Senturk. But the fireworks didn’t end there. With everyone looking forward to 30 more minutes of extra soccer, the Germans struck again on an incredible give-and-go that left one Turkish defender writhing on the ground. From there, Philip Lahm did the rest and buried the ball in the left upper 90, giving the Germans the much-needed golden goal and a trip the Euro 2008 Finals.
Their opponent will either be Spain or Russia, who play in tomorrow’s afternoon game. The Euro 2008 Final will be Sunday at 2:45/1:45 Central.
The Turkish have been playing some inspiring soccer in the last week or so. Their stunning comeback against the Czech Republic remains one of the gems of Euro 2008. The question surrounding them today is do they have enough players to reproduce a similar performance against a team many consider the top in the tournament (with apologies to Spain)? Turkey will be without six players — four to suspension and two to injury — when they kick-off against Michael Ballack and company and because of that, you have to wonder about their chances.
Not only that, Turkey also has injury questions about three other players who may try and perform despite their maladies. However, if they can’t, Turkey may only be playing with 13 total players. Full squads have 23. Again, this can’t be great news when you are getting ready to play the Germans, a team with no noticeable injury issues and a team that’s been playing brilliant offensive football.
The German defense hasn’t been too bad either, giving up only four goals to their seven. While that may average out to giving up a goal-a-game, Jens Lehmann has posted two shutouts in four games. When not discussing the abilities of their goalie, the main focus of the German squad is the aforementioned Michael Ballack. The great midfielder has netted two goals in four games and spurring a German attack that’s scored in every Euro 2008 game they’ve played.
While this game could be analyzed to death, you get the feeling it comes down to this — Germany’s full-strength squad versus Turkey’s depleted side. It’s hard to believe a team with some many questions about their players availability would be able to ultimately withstand the German onslaught.
Of course, don’t tell the Turkish side that because I don’t think they’d hear you. Furthermore, if Germany is as smart as they play, they wouldn’t believe the depleted side hype either.
Kick-off is at 2:30/1:30 Central on ESPN. Thank goodness for their 360 offering.
H/t to Euro 2008 Girls for some of the images.
While I’ve been a little lacking in our Euro 2008 coverage, I have been keeping an eye on it. Now we are down the final four remaining teams. Germany versus Turkey and Spain versus Russia. Who advances? As of now, the probable favorites are Spain and Germany, however, just ask the Dutch and the Croatia about being picked to beat either Turkey or Russia. It doesn’t always turn out the way you want.
So how did we get here? For Germany, they pushed past the Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portuguese squad, 3-2 and are looking really strong. They also want to silence the voices still chirping over their 2006 World Cup appearance. If Germany want to advance the Euro 2008 Finals, they’ll need knock-off media darling Turkey. Will Michael Ballack continue to control the midfield for the Germans, feeding their deadly attack or can Turkey withstand the German firepower?
The Turkish are the surprising team of these Euros and it would not be wise for the Germans to overlook them.
Just ask the Czechs.
In the other match, we have Spain and Russia. Spain is obviously feeling the weight of an 88-year old monkey being lifted from their backs after they dispatched Italy yesterday, winning a penalty shoot-out to do so. Will Spain come back to Earth in time to face a skilled Russian squad? If not, they will face the same fate as the Dutch did — unceremoniously shown the door by an upstart team with a boatload of ability.
Of course, Spain also has mountains of ability and an impressive offensive attack. If Russia is simply happy to be in the Final Four, they Euro trip will probably end at the hands of the Spanish Armada.
Germany/Turkey is on Wednesday and Spain/Russia will be played on Thursday. The Euro 2008 Final will be, of course, after these two games and will take place this coming Sunday. It should be a blast.
Images courtesy of Euro 2008 Girls.