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Article:Germany 3 - 2 Turkey

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Well this was a much better game than anyone had a right to expect, and mostly it was sweet schadenfreude as the Germans were terrible. But then they ruined it at the end by pinching the win.

In the first half the Germans were slow and sloppy and didn't close down or track runners or do the basics at all, and the opening goal came when nobody marked a striker as he ran 20 yards to receive a throw-in, a cross was slung in and after a bizarre rebound off the bar Lehmann fumbled the ball over the line. And it was no more than the Turks deserved, after they'd dominated, taken the game on and hit the bar once already. The Germans got an undeserved equaliser when Podolski screamed off down the left and crossed for Schweinsteiger, who'd made a clever stuttered run across from the right, to clip it home. And then for the rest of the game the Germans were rubbish. They gave the ball away, they failed to close down, and the only pace they have in the side is Podolski. I think they're incredibly easy to stop - Schweinsteiger is a tidy and sometimes clever player, but against any reasonably athletic full-back he has to turn back every time because he hasn't got a prayer of going round the outside. The big surprise was that Philip Lahm had an awful game. Playing against Colin Kazim-Richards, who is not THAT strong or that quick, Lahm absolutely couldn't cope, and he was beaten and gave free-kicks away all night. This was a litmus game, and I'm afraid he is not a good defender, however impressive he looks up the other end of the pitch.

So the Turks dominated, and made half chances and won corners, but didn't score, and then Lahm broke into the box and was cleaned out by the defender and the ref didn't give the penalty (though it was as clear as ever you will see). Before the half Rolfes (who was TERRIBLE tonight, having been good against Portugal) brutally fouled an opponent and cut his head open doing it, so Frings came on despite injury. And with about ten minutes to go Rustu came for a cross and got nowhere near it and Klose headed into the empty net. But before there was time to feel sorry for the Turks they equalised, with Lahm badly beaten down the right and the excellent Semih clipping it in at the near post (with Lhmann again at fault). For a moment it seemed justice would be done, but then Lahm again made it into the box off a one-two and his finished coolly, high inside the near post as Rustu went down early.

Germany are in the final, but really aren't a good side. A decent top six Premiership side would have no problems against them at all, and it's not inconceivable that they could lose by 2/3/4 goals in the final. But again, they've got a day's extra rest over their opponents, and again they haven't played extra-time, and both of those factors matter. I feel immensely sympathetic towards Turkey, because they gave a really fine, brave, controlled, confident performance even after injuries cost them several first-team players, and the result was a real injustice. The standard of play at this tournament is not high, but this was an exciting and absorbing game to watch.


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