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Germany v Turkey – post game

I am just exhausted. You know what the Turkish team reminds me of – the trick birthday candle that you just can’t blow out. So you finally get a big bucket of water and douse it. That’s what Germany had to do. I still don’t believe the Turks lost since the last two minutes of injury time were black screened due to technical difficulties. I had absolutely no doubt that Turkey would come back and score during that time. However, it was not to be. It is amazing that everyone who saw this run will talk of this Turkey team’s performance long after anyone remembers who won the tournament. Hats off to you. You played with possibly four starters and almost made it to the final.

However, the Dwarf (that’s not my nickname for him – it’s what they call him in Germany) made Turkey pay. First he crossed for Klose to leap and nod in in typical Miroslav fashion, then he got turned inside out by Sabri who crossed for Semih to score with the touch of the tournament and finally he cut in on the left wing, dished off, kept running and finished off by wrong footing Rustu with a high blast at the near post. It was a brilliant finish. And it didn’t give the Turks enough time to get another goal back.

Turkey started the game very well and had the Germans looking very ordinary. Ballack really had a sub par game and Lehmann was up to his usual walkabout tricks. Kazim Kazim blasted one off the crossbar before mishitting another one off the other side of the crossbar. Lehmann was totally lost on the rebound, Friedrich was ball watching and Ugur Boral put it in between a confused Lehmann’s legs. This after Lehmann almost let a cross by Altintop leave him stranded too far out of the six yard box. So, Germany was lucky it was only 1-0. They were also lucky that the Turks didn’t immediately shut up shop for the half and instead allowed Podolski space on the wing to cross for Schweinsteiger to make a brilliant touch finish to the far post.

Pre-game prediction: Germany 3 Turkey 1

Result: Germany 3 Turkey 2

Scorers: Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, Philip Lahm (Germany) Ugur Boral, Semih Senturk (Turkey)

I didn’t see enough from Germany in this game to change my prediction that the winner of Russia v Spain wins this tournament. The German backs are going to have a hard time dealing with the movement, passing and trickery of Villa/Torres/Silva or Arshavin/Pavlyuchenko/Zhirkov. I hope the Russia v Spain semi final delivers what it’s capable of – the best game of the tournament…

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Who will win Euro 2008 – pre semi finals

Why Germany will win:

I believe Germany will beat Turkey in its weakened state. That leaves Germany playing either Spain or Russia for the trophy.

  • The psychological edge: Neither Russia nor Spain has been at this level in the lifetimes of these players. That is going to weigh heavily on them if the game is close, goes to overtime or in penalties. Germany, by contrast, is battle tested. Ballack and Klose were in the squad that lost in the 2002 World Cup Final to Brazil. While Puyol, Marchena, Casillas, Xavi and Iniesta have been in Champions League winning squads, that’s not the same as a quadrennial tournament for your country. I know Spain won their shootout, but I will take the Germans in a shootout if it comes to that – Lehmann is very good at penalties as well. I believe it will be less of an edge against the Russians as they have nothing to lose. They have overperformed and have a great coach to take some of the pressure off the players.
  • The physical edge: Russia has been particularly vulnerable on free kicks as evidenced by the slack marking against the Dutch. That will bury them against the Germans who demonstrated their aerial capabilities against Portugal. Spain has also struggled with the high ball – they gave up a headed goal to Pavlyuchenko and had trouble against Ibrahimovic on the diagonal cross. In midfield, it’s going to be tough for Spain to match up with the speed and aggressiveness of the Germans. Podolski, Klose, Ballack and Schweinsteiger are also going to be a handful for the Spanish rearguard.
  • In-form players: Ballack, Klose, Schweinsteiger and Podolski are all on the board. Look out.

Why Spain will win:

They can beat Russia by keeping possession – the less time the Russians have on the ball, the less damage Arshavin can do. If I was Spain, I would slow the game down so that the Russians’ late game fitness is not an issue. Spain also has enough mobility in midfield to stay with the Russians. It’s a toss up, but I think Spain can win because of the scoring threat that Torres and Villa will provide. They will not be flat like the Dutch were. However, Casillas is going to have to have the game of his life to keep the Russians from scoring with Pavlyuchenko set to give Puyol and Marchena fits.

  • Spain has the bench: Their depth will be the key to counter Germany or Turkey if the game goes into overtime. Arragones has a depth of midfield choices to change up his gameplan as well.
  • In-form players: Villa leads the tournament in scoring. Torres has scored and all the penalty kick takers, excluding Guiza, should be full of confidence. Casillas is on form as well.
  • They believe now that they have thrown off the quarterfinal jinx.
  • They are quicker at moving the ball around than anyone Germany or Turkey have played so far. That will give them fits. I think Spain should want to play Germany because only Genghis Khan’s hordes will be able to keep Turkey from winning the title if they beat Germany with half a squad. Tuncay, Turan, Volkan and Asik will be back for the final, so beware.
  • It’s their time – it just feels like it.

Why Russia will win:

They can beat Spain if they score first. Spain will have to be more aggressive playing from behind and that will leave more space for Arshavin to exploit. It’s going to be tough as Spain has been warned after seeing the Dutch get served up. So if Russia can get past Spain, they will beat Turkey handily in my opinion. The Turks will not be able to recover from giving up as many chances as Russia creates. Can they beat Germany is the question. Yes, they can.

  • Russia plays the best football of any team in the tournament. It’s pretty, one touch, direct, motion football. As a result, they create a ton of chances regardless of the pace of play.
  • They have nothing to lose. They are already heroes.
  • They have in-form players in Pavlyuchenko and Zhirkov as well as the player of the tournament in Arshavin.
  • They have Hiddink.
  • Their movement will make it tough for Germany to shut them down even if Germany plays five in midfield.
  • They will have learned their lesson against Holland and mark people tighter on free kicks and corners.

And after all that, CH12 picks…

My gut says the winner of the Spain v Russia semi final wins the tournament with my choice being Spain. More after the semi finals…

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1st Semi Final: Germany v Turkey – pre game prediction

Why Germany should win:

  • They are great at set pieces. Ballack has scored the only free kick in the tournament and Podolski and Schweinsteiger are also good strikers of the ball. They are strong in the air and have scored two goals off set pieces against a supposedly strong Portugese defense where Pepe and Carvalho are good in the air.
  • This is the knockout stage and the Germans traditionally get stronger as the tournament starts getting to the business end of it.
  • Ballack has now scored two straight winners. Look out. Klose is off the mark too.
  • Schweinsteiger had a hand in all three goals against Portugal. While Turkey is not Portugal, he has now had a hand in six goals against a strong Portugal side in the last two matches. His drive was missing in their games against Croatia and Austria. Now you can count on Podolski and Bastian to provide energy from the wings.
  • Loew is back on the sideline.
  • Turkey is decimated (they would be happy with a decimation – this is a thirdamation) by injuries and suspensions. It’s a bit much to have your entire starting attacking trio be out for the match – Nihat, Tuncay and Turan – along with your starting central defense and goalkeeper. It might not be a good thing to be captain of Turkey – first Emre and now Nihat are out with injuries.
  • By now they know that you REALLY, REALLY, REALLY need to concentrate against Turkey from minute 87 till the final whistle… and then keep playing for another 30 seconds to make sure the ref actually blew the whistle.

Why Turkey should win:

  • Why ask why? Just look at the last three games. If you can beat the host nation on a lake in the last second, then have one of the best goalies in the world drop a ball for you to equalize and then score again (all in the last three minutes) and then score in injury time of overtime after conceding with a minute to go – all on fumes and with three days rest in between in each game – what barrier does Germany pose. It’s not like Der Kaiser is suited up on the other side.
  • Super sub, thy name is Semih. He has played a total of 148 minutes and put in two last minute goals. Let’s see how he does from the start.
  • Hamit Altintop (his name supposedly translates to golden ball – Beckham the singular). He had a great game once he was restored to the center of the park instead of playing at right back. He knows the German game – he regularly tangles with Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Jansen, Klose and Podolski in practice at Bayern Munich. He has nothing to lose and one of his blasts is due.
  • I think the stadium will look like a Turkey home game.
  • Turkey should win, because the underdog seems to be winning most of the time at this tournament.

CH12 believes that Germany will win. Turkey has just too many injuries and the adrenalin will wear off when they find themselves two down and without the firepower to bring themselves back into it. Also, they will not be able to deal with the German height on set pieces. Whoever scores first in this game will win.

Pre-game prediction: Germany 3 Turkey 1

I would like to see Turkey win, though. Maybe they will come back from being two down with three sets of penalty kicks to go…

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Italy v Spain – post match

Back in business. At least one half of my pre tournament final pairing is still alive with Spain coming through against Italy. This was a toss up – either side could have and should have won it. With that said, Spain deserved to win for a few reasons. They were the aggressors during the game and were looking to actively score whereas the Italians resorted to their tried and trusted catenaccio. That works when Paolo Rossi, Roberto Baggio or even Totti is your striker. Not so when Toni can’t score, Cassano is tricky only in the middle of the field and Del Piero is given only 15 minutes to do so. It was left to Camoranesi to almost score for the Italians. Except that Casillas is the king of the foot save given how much improvisation he has to do when keeping goal for Real Madrid. Torres and Villa toiled without reward and the Italian defense were great. I didn’t think they would be able to keep them out with the makeshift central pairing, but they were solid. No clean looks.

Aragones, you are so lucky. Spain should have lost this game based on the moves you made. But, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Hopefully, you still have one more to go. You started Iniesta and Xavi together. Mistake. At least, you had the guts to correct the error and bring on Cesc and Cazorla (that man had the worst body language going into the penalty) in a double switch. I think you should have only taken Iniesta off. Xavi and Cesc would have been more effective at a time when you needed more passers on the field. Silva did have a decent game, but I just can’t get excited about a player who absolutely refuses to use his other foot. If he had used his right foot, he could have put at least two more clean shots on goal. Finally, the biggest gamble came off for you, but it just doesn’t make sense. Cesc supposedly hasn’t taken a competitive penalty since he was 15! You make him take the final penalty because you “felt he would score.” Unbelievable. What if he had to score without Casillas having saved Di Natale’s prior penalty? I knew Buffon was going to get one save. I just didn’t know whether Casillas could save two. Poor De Rossi has now missed two critical penalties following his Champions League miss against Man U. But at least he scored a penalty in the World Cup final. Di Natale has had a miserable Euro 2008 and completed it with a weak penalty that Casillas easily saved. Cesc, Wenger is going to be happy because this is really going to help you in your career. That’s a lot of pressure to put one away under – especially when you are facing the best goalkeeper in the world. Well done son.

Pre-game prediction: Spain 2 Italy 1

Result: Spain 0 Italy 0 (Spain wins 4-2 on penalties)

Ven a España. Приходите на Россию (that’s “Come On Russia” for you non-Cyrillic types). Kommen Sie in Deutschland. sahneye çıkmak turkiye. A respite before Wednesday and Thursday’s games…

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Croatia v Turkey – post game

I give up.  CH12 is retired… till later this evening 🙂  This is the most amazing set of comebacks I have ever seen.  It’s not even like there is some superstar dribbling through tons of defenders and bringing them back.  Turkey has no Maradona or Zidane or Pele.  What they have tons of if “been there, seen that, know what to do”… all gathered over the last week.

Croatia started the game on the backfoot, but had the best chance to score when Olic put a gilt edged cross by Modric onto the crossbar before Kranjcar headed the rebound wide.  That should have been 1-0.  Of course, Turkey would probably have scored two goals at the end of regulation to beat Croatia in regular time!  As it was, Croatia outplayed Turkey in the second half and would have gone ahead but for some excellent keeping by Rustu Recber who recovered from a shaky start.  He palmed over a goal bound Srna free kick before blocking a few more Olic opportunities.  Olic worked hard, got in position, but was wasteful.  Kranjcar was the invisible man before being substituted in the second half and Modric had flashes of creativity while floating in and out of the game.

To extra time, and Turkey suddenly seemed to pick it up again.  Maybe Sanli and Turan realized they were not going to have to save anything for the semi finals since they are going to be suspended.  Good chances were created, but no goals.  So, of course, everything happens in the last three minutes.  In the 119th minute, Rustu suddenly went Nikopolidis-walkabout along the goal line and Modric picked up the ball and crossed it for Klasnic to put it into the net behind a scrambling Rustu.  Surely this meant the game was over.  Key play – it’s 1minute into injury time and Rakitic has the ball.  He dribbles past two Turks, looks up, sees two of his teammates breaking in the center circle and launches a through ball.  Offside.  If only he had continued his dribble, or dropped off a simple lateral pass or even kicked it to the corner.  But, no.  Rustu grabbed the ball before it rolled to far, set it down and launched a blast that got nodded in some confusion at the top of the Croatian box and dropped for Semih Senturk to turn an unstoppable finish into the top left hand corner.  Bilic went crazy asking why there were two minutes of injury time.  Whatever. 

Whatever the Turks teach their goalies, saving penalties must be one.  Of course, Volkan’s deputy was the hero – Rustu saved the final penalty and Croatia put another two wide of the goal.  Game over.  Croatia is crushed.  If only …

For a positive rant.  Whatever one may say of the modern pro loving his club more than his country, all you had to do was see Srna sobbing – and he had a great game, and scored his penalty – after the game to know how much international tournaments mean to players.  It is so nice to see and reminds us that’s it not about the money when you flash back to why you started playing the game as a kid and the fantasies you had about winning the World Cup for your country. 

Big topic over the next few days – will Turkey be able to field even 15 players for the semi final given the suspensions and injuries?

Pre-game prediction: Croatia 2 Turkey 0

Result: Croatia 1 Turkey 1 (Turkey wins on penalties)

Scorers: Ivan Klasnic (Croatia) Semih Senturk (Turkey)

To what I believe will be the best football played in the tournament – Russia v Holland…

 

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Croatia v Turkey – pre game prediction

Croatia wins. If Rakitic is well enough to play, Croatia has enough to beat a banged up and tired Turkish team. Olic, Srna and Modric will be enough to see Croatia through and their defense has been relatively tight.

Turkey has some major gaps to fill through injury and suspension. They will be without captain Emre Belozoglu because of a hamstring injury since their opening game, Emre Gungor is out for the rest of the tournament with a calf problem and Sevet Cetin and Tumer Metin will miss the Croatia game due to injury. Goalkeeper Volkan Demirel and Mehmet Aurelio are suspended, with Volkan potentially missing the semi final game as well.

Turkey does have enough firepower and desire with the front trio of Nihat, Tuncay and Turan.  However, this is the match where I expect Niko Kranjcar to finally step up, much like Schweinsteiger did for Germany.  He has great technique and a great shot – let’s see how Rustu deals with being the starter.

Pre-game prediction: Croatia 2 Turkey 0

It would set up a nice rematch with Germany in the semi finals…

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Portugal v Germany – post game

CH12, this is the Germans we are talking about. Look at the history, son. OK, so I am going to put in my comments in bullet fashion.

Portugal wins. Germany wins.

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo. Like he isn’t already motivated, Lehmann fires him up even more by saying that he knows his weakness since Arsenal has had great success against him over the last few years. I guess they must know something. Actually, packing the midfield and having Portugal not get him the ball enough was an issue. Also, Nuno Gomes is past the sell by date. Maybe Almeida or Postiga should have come on earlier.
  2. Portugal has pace on the wings – the German midfield and back four are just too slow. They couldn’t control Korkmaz properly. How exactly are they going to keep up with Simao, Ronaldo, Moutinho along with Nani and Quaresma off the bench? Short answer, they did. A lot has to do with going 2 up and then being able to stick with five in midfield to deal with the wing pressure.
  3. Germany has lacked drive in the middle of the park. IF Ballack plays well and IF Schweinsteiger shows the drive he was starting to display before his red card against Croatia, then Germany may have a chance – don’t forget that Bastian had a hat trick against Portugal in the 3rd place match at World Cup 2006. But I think the extra time that Deco should get against the German midfield – especially if Frings is out – is going to kill Germany. Ballack did play well. Schweinsteiger DID show the drive and the five man midfield didn’t give Portugal enough time or space.
  4. Pepe and Carvalho are good in the air. Bet Gomez doesn’t start. So it’s going to be tougher for Klose to win aerial battles. Germany’s chance is going to come from one twos between Podolski and Klose. Also, whoever is coming down the right wing needs to put pressure on Ferreira – he’s the weak link. Too bad Lahm plays on the left. Maybe Loew should switch him to right back to get the matchup. I don’t know what to say when Portugal gives up two goals from headers off free kicks. Carvalho was to blame for switching off Ballack for the third goal (Ricardo too – what kind of weak attempt was that?) and Ronaldo was hanging out for Klose’s goal. Ferreira was the weak link – he was beaten on Schweinsteiger’s near post run for the first goal and unfairly got victimized by Ballack for the third goal. Shocking to me was how easily Podolski held off, and actually accelerated past, Bosingwa and Pepe on the left wing before crossing for the first goal. Carvalho was jogging back and marking grass while Ferreira let Schweinsteiger come all the way across the box and get in front of him for the finish.
  5. Germany hasn’t played well since the first half against Poland. Nothing to say.
  6. Portugal is well rested with their starters having had a week off between games. Germany had to labor through 90 minutes a few days ago against Austria and Podolski is supposedly banged up. Frings did sit out but the extra man in midfield helped. And Bastian was off for a week as well…!

However, this is the Germans, so don’t ever count them out. Especially if Portugal doesn’t get Ronaldo the ball on the wing enough. Like I said…

Pre-game prediction: Portugal 2 Germany 1

Result: Portugal 2 Germany 3

Scorers: Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, Michael Ballack (Germany) Nuno Gomes, Helder Postiga (Portugal)

Man of the match will be Deco… Man of the match was Schweinsteiger with a goal, two assists and tons of energy.

Ronaldo – this is what happens when you start thinking about leaving Man U for Real Madrid. I think it’s 50/50 that he goes – it will come down to whether or not Man U gives him his raise.

Hopefully, CH12 is better in the Croatia v Turkey game. Croatia is my horse in that race…

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