The semifinals of Euro 2008 were a case of contrasting results. Of the four teams Germany were always regarded as the big tournament favourites as they always managed to get through to the semi and finals someway or the other, Spain was the under-achievers of Europe though they had brilliant players for the last so many years, Russia were scintillating in the last 2 matches, knocking out the brilliant Dutch and were the team in form and lastly the unpredictable Turks, who were without 9 of their starting XI, who were giving a new meaning to last gasp finishes.
The first semifinal between Germany and Turkey was supposed to be a easy match for th Germans as the Turkey team were missing 9 players!!! That is like you are playing with your second team in the semifinal. But what a shock the Germans were in for. The Turks showed that it doesn’t matter if you first team is out injured and you don’t have names to fill in the team sheet if you have the heart to play these big games. They took the fight to the Germans and were the better side. A goal in each half meant their at the Germans had their task cut out for the second half. They scored first in the second half through Klose. You would not write off the Turks in situations like this as they have come back from behind in so many matches in this Euro. And they justified it by doing exactly that through Semih Senturk. This meant that the last few minutes of the match would either be spent looking for a winning goal or playing out for th Extra time. And then came the move from Lahm, who had a match to forget till then, expect for the cross to Klose for the second goal, who slotted in the goal for a very cool finish.
The power cuts meant that the match was not viewed in full flow except for the viewers at the stadium I presume. The goal meant that it opened up the match for high drama. Would Turkey come up with a dramatic equaliser? It was not meant to be in the end and they ended up on the losing side. For once they were on the receiving end of their own treatment. Germans did a Turkey to them. But this Turkey team and their coach, Terim can bow out of the tournament with their head held high. What an achievement for this team.
The second semifinal which was billed as the better semi as it featured two teams who had a passion for passing and attacking play. The semi was a washout as the Russians never looked like a team that had destroyed the Dutch. Infact Spain had their number as they put 3 goals past them. So the Russians started the campaign with a 4-1 defeat to the Spanish and ended their campaign also losing to them. In other words, the Russians conceded 2 goals against Greece, Sweden and Holland conceded 7 against Spain.
Arshavin was a marked man and Puyol was never going to give him any space in the Spanish half. It was a shadow of the side who had beaten the Dutch so convincingly. Hiddink looked helpless but he and his team should be credited to come so far in this tournament and making some stars out of Arshavin, Zhirkov, Pavlyuchenko etc take centre stage in Europe. Hats off to the Red Brigade.
But contrastingly, the Spanish came to the fore when the situation demanded it. When Villa got injured, there were doubts on what formation Aragones will make for the 1 hour of play left in the match. He got Fabregas to play behind the striker and let his midfield advance a bit more once they had control of play. Senna was a class act again and if not for his age would have been a sure signing for Arsenal in the holding midfield role. But it was the number 10 of Spain who shone through the match. Fabregas who has always been accused of not replicating his club form for Arsenal in the national side, did just that. His delicately weighted flick for Guiza to score the second and then the low cross from the left for David Silva to score the third has underlined his inclusion in the starting XI for the final.
Anyways, the four teams in the semis were there deservedly and the final will be a fitting one or this edition of the Euros.
The Independent has listed the 10 most sought after Euro 2008 players.
1 Andrei Arshavin (Russia) Striker, 27
2 David Villa (Spain) Striker, 26
3 Arda Turan (Turkey) Left-winger, 21
4 Roman Pavlyuchenko (Russia) Striker, 26
5 Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Netherlands) Striker, 24
6 Karim Benzema (France) Striker, 20
7 Miguel Veloso (Portugal) Midfielder, 22
8 Yuri Zhirkov (Russia) Left-back, 24
9 Ivan Rakitic (Croatia) Winger, 20
10 Valon Behrami, (Switzerland) Right-sided midfield, 22
I would add to this list the following 5 names
11. David Silva, Spain, left-sided midfield, 22
12. Marcos Senna, Spain, central midfield, 32
13. Igor Akinfeev, Russia, Goal Keeper, 22
14. Ibrahim Affelay, Netherlands, Midfield, 22
15. Denis Kolodin, Russia, Central Defender, 26