Germany are the favorites going into their Euro 2008 semi-final against heavily depleted Turkey in Basel on Wednesday, June 24. Millions of Germans and Turks will tune in as both teams try to book a spot in the final.
The clash between Germany's "two teams" has both nations on tenterhooks
Seeking a fourth European title for Germany, coach Joachim Loew has hinted at retaining the team and tactics deployed to beat Portugal 3-2 in the quarter-finals.
A similar performance should see Germany through to a sixth European final, but Loew dismisses the role of favorites.
"The key is to keep our feet on the ground," he said. "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."
Torsten Frings has recovered from a rib fracture to train with the side, but the Werder Bremen midfielder is not assured of a start.
Meanwhile, Turkey coach Fatih Terim is struggling to get his side together following suspensions and injuries to key players.
Germany have an outstanding record of 11 wins and only four defeats in 17 games against the Turks, but have not won against them since 1992, with two defeats and a draw since.
Germany coach looking for adventurous approach
Jogi Loew may stick with his winning formula
Loew says his side will not underestimate Turkey, which has turned looming defeat into victory in three straight games thanks to late goals.
The coach could keep the 4-2-3-1 system used against Portugal, rather than revert to the customary 4-4-2.
Simon Rolfes and Thomas Hitzlsperger played the holding midfield roles and could be retained if Loew decides against Frings.
"Frings is an important player. There is possibility of him returning. But there is also the possibility of 'never change a winning team.' He is a fighter, I am happy he is available," said Loew.
Captain Michael Ballack has also spoken in favor of retaining the system. "I have the feeling we are not going to mess up this game like we did against Croatia," Ballack said, in a reference to Germany's 2-1 defeat to the Croatians in the group stage.
Turkey are so decimated by injuries and suspensions that coach Terim suggested this week that deputy keeper Tolgan Zengin could even play outfield.
Terim's team suffers from injuries and suspensions
Terim is struggling to put eleven fit men on the field
First-choice goalkeeper Volkan Demirel is serving the second part of a two-match ban following his dismissal against the Czech Republic, while Emre Asik, Arda Turan and Tuncay Sanli are also suspended.
Striker Nihat Kahveci has returned to Spain for treatment on a thigh injury, while Emre Gungor has been ruled out of the tournament as well. Also on the injury list are Servet Cetin, Tumer Metin and captain Emre Belozoglu.
Despite the missing players, striker Semih Senturk, who came off the bench to score Turkey's equalizers against Switzerland and Croatia, said the team was confident of reaching Turkey's first major tournament final.
"Everybody thinks Germany are favorites against us. But it is only motivating us even more," he said.
After going behind in all their four games at the tournament, Turkey will be trying to make sure it did not happen again against the Germans, he said.
"We will be confident against Germany," Semih said. "We know what we have achieved and we are proud of it. I think Germany will have some fear playing against us, because it is a one-off match and the loser will be going home."
The game is being billed as the “game of the century” in Germany with its large Turkish population.
Germany preparing for massive party
The Berlin fan mile is set for another memorable night
A party atmosphere is all but guaranteed for Wednesday's match as more than half a million German and Turkish fans are set to watch from the nation's biggest fan zone in Berlin alone.
Security officials are upbeat that there will be no major disturbances as violence has not been a factor so far around the tournament.
"Let us celebrate a big football party," was the front-page headline on Tuesday in the Hamburger Abendblatt daily.
German chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan are set to attend the match in Basel, Switzerland.
The Bild tabloid featured prominent Turks such as award-winning movie director Fatih Akin and reminded Germans of their love for kebab. And Loew echoed those sentiments.
"We live together in Germany and I hope the game goes without provocation. There is a great relationship between Turks and Germans," said Loew.
Germany-born Turkey midfielder Hamit Altintop agreed: "This semi-final should not be misused for nationalism."
Soccer wipes political problems off Turkey's front pages
Turkey's woes have been forgotten in the euphoria
A constitutional stand-off, a possible banning of the country's ruling political party and continuing skirmishes with Kurdish separatists have all been wiped off the pages of Turkey's newspapers with Radikal newspaper summing up the mood of the country: "Only item on the agenda -- soccer."
Turkey's amazing Euro 2008 run, highlighted by dramatic last-minute goals in the last three matches, has set the country abuzz going into the semi-final.
It is the never-say-die attitude of the national team that has given so much pride to Turkish people and a belief that the semi-final may not be the end of the tournament for Turkey.
Rather than concentrate on what tactics Turkey coach Fatih Terim might employ to get past the Germans, newspapers have decided to concentrate on the spirit that has got Turkey so far.
"We have been penalized, we are injured but our hearts are strong," read a headline on the front page of Hurriyet newspaper, referring to injuries and yellow cards that have left the Turkish squad severely depleted.
"The Panzers (Germans) are the most disciplined team of the tournament, but our biggest weapon is the fact that we put our heart into the way we play. Our national team never, never, gives up easily," Hurriyet said.
Turkish cities ready for good-natured chaos
The Turkish fans will be out in force again Wednesday
For the match itself, authorities in Istanbul have set up a large outdoor screen for thousands to watch the match while the rest of the country will fall quiet when the teams kick off -- with the only sound being that of the commentary on television.
Should the Turks win, though, and that quiet will turn to a wall of sound as young and old alike will take to streets for a celebration that could well last all night, judging by the impromptu parties launched after Turkey's quarter-final victory over Croatia on Friday night.
At midnight on Friday, there were traffic jams everywhere. The honking of horns was deafening and punctuated only by crowds of people lining the streets breaking out into soccer chants or patriotic songs.
"Those crazy Turks" is a slogan that has been taken up to describe the amazing scenes of in the streets across the country that has followed every Turkey victory so far.
On the soccer pitch Turkey has pulled off some amazing victories so far. Victory over the Germans and "those crazy Turks" will be out on the streets once more.