Semi-Finals Pit Disparate Coaches Against Each Other | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 23.06.2008
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Semi-Finals Pit Disparate Coaches Against Each Other

The coaches of Germany, Turkey, Russia and Spain all have their eyes on the one prize. How one goes about achieving the aim of becoming European champion will depend on the approach of all the others.

Joachim Loew, Germany; Guus Hiddink, Russia; Fatih Terim, Turkey; Luis Aragones, Spain

Four into one won't go: The managerial quartet vying for the title of European champion

Fresh from an impressive triumph over his native Netherlands, Russia coach Guus Hiddink wanted to set one matter right.

He regretted, he said, a remark on the eve of the game about wanting to be a "traitor" in beating his native Netherlands.

"In my concept traitor is a very bad word. Let's consider it more lightly: yes, I would have loved to outclass the Dutch side," he said after seeing his side do just that in Basle's St Jakob-Park stadium.

In the heat of the moment Hiddink admits he can sometimes get carried away by the emotions of the game: he has had his share of run-ins with fourth officials on the touchline at Euro 2008.

"I don't say I am not a little bit guilty," he said. But common sense should prevail. "It's all part of the game" -- soon forgotten, or at least should be.

Rather than punish coaches by sending them to the stands and imposing touchline bans, as happened to Germany's Joachim Loew and Austria's Josef Hickersberger, just have a quite word with them: "Gentlemen, are you finished? Then we can go on with the game."

Hiddink looking to add another title to impressive CV

Guus Hiddink

Few coaches on the scene can rival Hiddink's record

Hiddink's passion and good sense seems to have rubbed off on the Russian team as they aim to reach the final in Vienna on Sunday.

Hiddink's six Dutch titles and coaching experience with four nations including the Netherlands helped in tactically outwitting the Dutch in the quarter-finals. His Spanish CV -- he coached Valencia, Real Madrid and Real Betis in the 1990s -- could now come in handy against Spain.

At 61, he comes up against the oldest coach in the tournament in Spain's Luis Aragones in Thursday's semi-final in Vienna.

Aragones will be 70 next month but seems to have lost none of his own passion for the game, and reportedly wants to continue in club soccer after Euro 2008.

Like Hiddink, Aragones is a paternal figure with the squad who demands the best, and -- as record goalscorer Raul Gonzalez discovered before the tournament -- is not afraid of upsetting big names or reputations.

Neither did striker Fernando Torres like being taken off in Spain's 4-1 victory over Russia in their opening Group D game, but the coach made it clear he was not putting up with any nonsense.

Fiery Aragones lets nothing and no-one get in his way

Spanish national soccer team's coach, Luis Aragonés

Aragones and his direct ways have alienated some

Aragones, who was a player and coach at Atletico Madrid and has also coached the likes of Barcelona, Valencia and Sevilla, has had a rocky relationship with Spanish fans and media.

Known for his blunt speaking, he was in trouble over the use of racist remark about France striker Thierry Henry, but all will be forgiven if he gives Spain a first major trophy since 1964.

"I'm doing my job -- as coach I'm here to win. It's important for Spain. I'm not depressed when I lose, I'm not euphoric in victory," he said after the win over Italy, his feet firmly on the ground.

Germany's Loew is the youngest and least experienced of the four semi-final coaches. Well-mannered and articulate, his occasional animation on the touchline always seem to come as a surprise.

Still waters run deep for Germany's Loew

However, the words exchanged with Austrian coach Hickersberger and the fourth official which resulted in a one-match touchline ban showed that a simmering passion occasionally bubbles over.

Germany's head coach Joachim Loew

Jogi won't turn his nose up at the chance of a final place

Loew was assistant to Juergen Klinsmann at the 2006 World Cup and shares his predecessor's philosophy of faster, more direct soccer and absolute mental and physical fitness.

Klinsmann was regarded as the motivator; Loew the strategist. "Discipline" and "concentration" are bywords for the 48-year-old coach, who was a relatively modest player with 52 Bundesliga matches. He does, however, have some insight into the soccer mentality of Wednesday's opponent Turkey where he had coaching spells with Fenerbahce and Adanaspor.

Loew pits his wits against Turkey's Fatih Terim, whose leadership style has earned him the nickname "Emperor." Veteran striker Hakan Sukur and the Bundesliga duo Yildiray Basturk and Halil Altintop found out why when they were omitted from his Euro squad.

Turkey's Emperor back for more

Terim is in his second spell as Turkey coach after leading the team to their first-ever European Championships in 1996.

Turkish national soccer team head coach Fatih Terim

Fatih Terim has instilled his team with the same passion

He also won four national titles and the 2000 UEFA Cup as coach of Galatasarary, and nurtured an international reputation with spells in charge of Italian clubs Fiorentina and AC Milan.

Like Loew, Terim believes discipline and organization are a prerequisite for success. The 54-year-old former Galatasaray and Turkey defender wants his side to play with passion and bravery.

They have responded with a never-say-die attitude which has brought them three victories thanks to dramatic late goals.

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