Germans Approach Turkey Match with Caution and Determination | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 23.06.2008
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Germans Approach Turkey Match with Caution and Determination

Germany take pride in being the only 2006 World Cup semi-finalist to have reached the same stage at Euro 2008 but not even their great track record at big events will make them underestimate Turkey, said coach Jogi Loew.

Michael Ballack, right, talks to his coach Joachim Loew, left, during a public training session

Germany has played down talk of being a favorite ahead of the Turkey game

Loew and his players dismissed all suggestions that Germany was the favorite in the Wednesday match in Vienna against an opponent battered by suspension and injury.

"It is very special to be in the semi-finals. We are the last team from the World Cup semi-finals to be in the semi-finals here. That speaks for consistency after the World Cup," Loew told a news conference at the German Euro camp in southern Switzerland.

Of the other World Cup semi-finalists, holders Italy lost to Spain on Sunday, France went out in the group stage while Germany -- a three-time World Cup and Euro champion -- accounted for Portugal.

Loew praised his team for the big win last week, but also insisted: "The key is to keep our feet on the ground.

"We played a very good (quarter-final) match against Portugal and must reach the same level again. We have seen how strong the Turks have become in the tournament."

Defender Per Mertesacker agreed: "The two tournaments show that we deserve to get to semis. Now we want to take the next step. We prepared well each time and the team grew during the tournaments.

"Playing at home in 2006 helped us. We realized we could grow -- we now profit from this. Nothing has changed. (Coach) Juergen Klinsmann has gone but his concept was continued, that's why we deserve to be in the semi-finals again."

Respect for Turkey but Germany enjoy good odds

The German camp had a lot of praise for the fighting spirit of the Turks who managed to turn around the last three games with late goals. But at the same time the team is also aware of a great chance to make Sunday's final in Vienna against Spain or Russia.

Germany's Michael Ballack, right, celebrates his side's 3-2 win over Portugal with teammate Simon Rolfes

Ballack says the win over Portugal has Germany buzzing

"Turkey is tactically, technically and individually not better than us. But it is unpredictable and no one of us will underestimate it...It will be a tough task but we have a big chance to reach the final," said Michael Ballack.

Ballack said the impressive win has given his side a huge shot of confidence, especially since their shock 2-1 group stage defeat at the hands of 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 favorites. 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 of the tournament. And we have to take our chance against Turkey."

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

Coach Loew knows a thing or two about the Turkish spirit after working as manager of Fenerbahce during the 1990s. "I learnt very positive things for my life in Turkey," he said, praising the Turks' "amazing hospitality" as well as the identification with club and country in soccer.

He expressed his hope that Germans and the large Turkish community in Germany will experience a great match at the fan zones in Berlin and elsewhere.

Fit Frings present Loew with selection dilemma

Germany's Torsten Frings sits on the field during the group B match between Austria and Germany in Vienna

Frings has recovered from a fractured rib but will he play?

But the coach did not want to reveal whether midfielder Torsten Frings would return into the lineup despite a cracked rib after he resumed full training on Sunday night.

His presence would alter the German formation back from the successful 4-5-1 against Portugal to the normally preferred 4-4-2.

"Frings is an important player. There is possibility that he returns. But there is also the possibility of 'never change a winning team.' He is a fighter, I am happy he is available," said Loew. "Torsten trained completely normally, but with a protective bandage. He said he had no major problems. He will have to live with a nagging pain but as things stand he could play, yes."

Per Mertesacker suggested that the 4-5-1 with Thomas Hitzlsperger and Simon Rolfes gave the Germans a better defensive stability but agreed with Loew and forward Lukas Podolski that it all depends on "how we present ourselves on the pitch."

"We go into the game to win. It doesn't matter who is the favorite or who is suspended. We have a good chance to make final if we play like against Portugal," said Podolski.

Lehmann ready to lay life on the line for final spot

Germany's Jens Lehmann, left, seizes the ball ahead of Austria's Erwin Hoffer during the group B match between Austria and Germany in Vienna

After a few wobbles, Lehmann looks more assured

Veteran goalkeeper Jens Lehmann said he was prepared to put his life on the line in Wednesday's Euro 2008 semi-final against Turkey. The 38-year-old -- who should win his 60th cap on Wednesday -- added that he would not make up his mind about his international future until later in the summer unlike his previous bitter rival Oliver Kahn, who hung up his gloves after the 2006 World Cup.

"I am ready to give everything against Turkey, even my life," said the former Arsenal guardian, who will play for Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart next season after signing a one year contract.

Lehmann, who replaced Kahn as number one just prior to the 2006 World Cup finals where Germany finished third, said he would not make an impulsive decision over his international future.

"I am focusing on Wednesday's match. Afterwards if we get to Sunday's final, I don't believe that I am going to announce what I am going to do just after it," said Lehmann, whose retention as number one by coach Joachim Loew for Euro was criticized because he had not played enough first team football for Arsenal last season. "There is no pressure on me to do so."

Should Lehmann announce his retirement, the number one spot would probably be between Hannover's Rene Adler or Bayer Leverkusen's Robert Enke, who are backing him up in Switzerland and Austria.

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