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Turkey ‘mole’ spills beans on Bayern’s five

Hamit Altintop is using insider information to help Turkey plot Germany’s downfall in Wednesday’s Euro 2008 semi-final.

sports Updated: Jun 25, 2008 22:05 IST

Hamit Altintop is using insider information to help Turkey plot Germany’s downfall in Wednesday’s Euro 2008 semi-final.

The Gelsenkirchen-born Altintop has been busy giving the lowdown on his Bayern Munich colleagues Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski, Philipp Lahm, Marcell Jansen and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the German side facing the Turks in Basel.

“There are five Bayern players in the German side and we’re always talking about them with Hamit and he’ll continue to give information to us about them,” said Semih Senturk on Monday.

Senturk played a pivotal role in getting Turkey to their first ever semifinal at a European championships, his goal in the dying seconds of extra time setting up the victorious penalty shoot against Croatia.

He reckoned that appearing in the last four would provide him and his teammates with more self-confidence for the date with Die Mannschaft.

Senturk reflected on Turkey’s injury and suspension crisis — no fewer than nine of the 23 are out of commission, with four players banned and five unfit.

“To have lots of injuries and bans is hard on us and there are likely to be lots of changes on Wednesday but the replacements will be doing their utmost to help us get to the final.”

Defender Gokhan Zan, appearing alongside Senturk at the press conference, chipped in with a smile: “If we make it to the final we might be hard pushed to field 11 players!”

Senturk, who said the memory of the priceless goal he netted against Croatia last Friday would stay with him for the rest of his life, shed light on the role played by Fatih Terim in Turkey’s roller coaster passage in this Euro.

“Fatih treats every player like he’s their father, he takes care of us all. I can say both tactically and in terms of motivation he’s the best coach I’ve ever worked with.”

Despite their magnificent comebacks where late goals have snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat against Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Croatia, Senturk conceded Germany would be favourites in Basel.

“But that doesn’t worry us,” the forward said. “All it does is motivate us on a different level.”

Germans make a virtue of improvisation

Tenero: The players preach the value of traditional German virtues but Joachim Loew’s side have only made it to the semifinals of Euro 2008 thanks to an uncharacteristic streak of improvisation.

“We will play against Turkey with commitment and hard running,” centre-back Per Mertesacker said in a typical comment in the build-up to Wednesday’s semi-final in Basel.

“It’s only by employing those virtues that we get results.”

Germany have indeed worked hard but it would be wrong to give all the credit to the small army of fitness instructors employed since the days of Juergen Klinsmann.

First of all, German are unlikely to have made it this far had Loew not encouraged Lukas Podolski to reinvent himself as a midfielder.

Podolski had apparently lost his touch in front of goal after two disappointing seasons at Bayern Munich but instead of discarding him, Loew played him on the left of the midfield.

It turned out to be an inspired choice, as Podolski struck twice to lead Germany to their opening 2-0 win over Poland.
The big worry in Germany now is that the players will bask in the applause for that performance and make the mistake of underestimating Turkey, the tournament’s comeback kings.

The truth, however, is that if Ballack plays with the same freedom, if Podolski and Schweinsteiger show the same speed and deftness of touch, if Klose makes those darting runs they will overwhelm a Turkey team ravaged by injuries and suspensions.