We'll block the Turks, says Ballack

Germany captain Michael Ballack says knocking the favourites Portugal out would inspire them to beat Turkey in the Euro semifinal on Wednesday.

updated: June 28, 2008 10:21 IST
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Germany captain Michael Ballack says his side must use the confidence generated from their 3-2 quarterfinal win over Portugal to knockout come-back kings Turkey Wednesday to reach the Euro 2008 final.

Germany play Turkey in semi-final in Basel's St Jakob-Park Stadium where Chelsea midfielder Ballack scored the crucial third goal last Thursday which knocked Luiz Felipe Scolari's Portugal out of the tournament.

Ballack says the win gave his side a huge shot of confidence, especially after the shock 2-1 group stage defeat by Croatia, and Germany must take advantage of the injury-hit Turks on Wednesday.

"You always grow into the opponent and the task," said Ballack. "Portugal had been acting like the top favourites."

"So if you can throw a team like them out of the tournament it gives you enormous confidence. It is exactly what we need at this stage. And we have to take our chance against Turkey."

Ballack fully aware of Turkey's never-say-die spirit which has so far removed Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Croatia in spectacularly late style.

Fatih Terim's side have made last-gasp wins which remains their speciality at Euro 2008.

Having scored in injury-time to beat Switzerland 2-1 on June 11, Turkey then scored two goals in two minutes at the death four days later against the Czech Republic to snatch a dramatic 3-2 win which put them in the last eight.

And with virtually the last kick of the game in extra time, Semih Senturk equalised against Croatia to take the quarterfinal to penalties in Vienna last Friday and Turkey held their nerve to win the shoot-out 3-1.

"Turkey have always believed in turning the tables on any opponent," said Germany coach Joachim Loew, who has warned his side against any complacency.

"They have hit back in situations where no one would put a penny on them, the goals against the Czechs and Croatia were really a miracle response to their situation."

But key striker Nihat Kahveci, who scored both late goals against the Czechs, is just one of nine first-team players who are either injured or suspended for the semi-final.

The Villarreal forward, who picked up a thigh injury against Croatia, played a pivotal role in getting Turkey this far in the competition.

Terim faces an injury crisis with only 13 out-field players fit or available.

And defender Gokhan Zan summed the situation up when he said, "If we make it to the final we might be hard pushed to field 11 players."

But Turkey have nothing to lose and everything to gain against Germany having exceeded all expectations.

"Until we reached the semi-finals we had stress on us, now we're rid of that and that's going to have a positive effect on us," Zan added.

Fenerbahce's Senturk conceded that Germany would be favourites in Basel, but said that would simply serve to fire up the Turks.

"All it does is motivate us on a different level," he said.

"Germany are highly-disciplined and strong but we have a determined side and hope to achieve another win."

Owing to their amazing battling spirit, for German-born Turkey midfielder Hamit Altintop, tomorrow's semi-final is rated as "50-50".

"Of course Germany are favourites, but there's no reason why we can't beat them," said the Bayern Munich midfielder who has been passing on tips on his five Bayern team-mates in the German side.

"I'm not worried at all, our strength is our collective spirit, I'm sure we can progress to the final."

History favours the Germans. In 17 games between the sides since 1951, Germany have 11 victories and just three defeats with three draws, scoring 40 goals and conceding just ten.

But in the three meetings between the sides in the last ten years, the Germans have failed to beat Turkey and were beaten 2-1 in Istanbul in 2005 in a friendly and they have to go back to 1992 for their last win.