Germany facing alter ego

Tenero, June 22:

Fight to the last second, never give up. Late comebacks. Win on penalties. It sounds like Germany, but it’s also a fitting description of Turkey at this year’s Euro.

Fans will have a chance to compare the teams when they come face to face in Wednesday’s semi-final in Basel. The Turks have staged three memorable comebacks so far in the tournament, the most improbable coming in the quarter-finals against Croatia.

“We always take the most complicated path, but

we achieve our goals,” Turkey coach Fatih Terim said. It’s the sort of comeback Germany built their reputation on. Just ask Italy or France. Or England when it comes to penalties.

“The Turks have shown throughout the tournament that you can’t count them out no matter what the score in the game is,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “They are hard to figure out and therefore dangerous.” Many Germans have coached in Turkey, including Loew, who guided Fenerbahce during the 1998-99 season and also had a brief stint at Adanaspor.

Some of the mentality, discipline, commitment

and tactical awareness surely has rubbed off.

With 1.7 million Turks living in Germany and another million of Turkish descent, some of them already

have played for Germany. Hamit Altintop, one of Turkey’s stars here, was

born in Germany and but chose to play for Turkey and is now in Bayern Munich after playing for Schalke.

The German team’s

general manager Oliver Bierhoff, whose goal gave Germany the last of their

three European titles in 1996, had the opposite experience. Terim was Bierhoff’s boss briefly at AC Milan.

“I did not have an easy time under him, he lived up to his nickname ‘Emperor,”’ Bierhoff said today. “He wants to have it his way but he can motivate and he’s proven he’s a successful coach. We have to play with full concentration until the final whistle. We can’t let our guard down even if we are up by two goals,” Bierhoff said.

Germany have won 11 and lost just three of their 17 games against Turkey. But they have lost two of the last three, with one draw. Germany, then under coach Juergen Klinsmann and with Loew as assistant, lost 2-1 in October, 2005 in Istanbul in the last encounter.

The only time the two sides have met in the final phase of a major tournament was at the 1954 World Cup, when Germany won their first title, and both games were routs — Germany won 4-1 in the group and 7-2 in a playoff to reach the quarter-finals.

Germany captain Michael Ballack agreed with Loew that the Turks were always good to produce something unexpected. “Nobody expected this team to get this far — they themselves the least,” Ballack said.