Basel - 1,883 miles travelled

German newspaper Bild and Turkish counterpart Hurriyet both carried the same headline on Monday.

It read: "Let friendship win".

And wherever you look, all the right people are making all the right noises ahead of Wednesday's Euro 2008 semi-final between the two nations here in Basel.

German coach Joachim Loew has spoken in glowing terms of his experience as coach of Turkish side Fenerbahce during the 1998-99 season, talking of "incredible hospitality" and the welcome "with open arms" that he received, while Turkey rival Fatih Terim, after sagely acknowledging that one team will have to lose, has declared that "hopefully football will be the winner".

As for Hamit Altintop, one of two Turkish players born and raised in the country he will face on Wednesday, he has insisted: "I owe Germany a lot... better, everything."

But the sincere goodwill from those directly involved cannot detract from the inevitable concern that there could be problems.

There are close to three million people of Turkish descent in Germany, and a survey in newspaper Die Zeit earlier this year claimed half of them felt unwelcome in their adopted country.

Politicians admit there is poor integration of Turkish people in Germany and are using the semi-final to highlight the issue. For example, while there are no players of Turkish origin in the German squad, there are nine of Polish descent.

Claudia Roth, co-head of the German Green Party, says that the fact that Altintop and Hakan Balta have both chosen to play for Turkey rather than Germany is not a good sign either. "We have to be able to neutralize young people. We have to given them the feeling they belong here," she told Hurriyet.

Many supporters of Loew's team have followed their fortunes at the huge public viewing arenas across Germany and will turn out in great number again for the semi-final. At the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin alone, almost 500,000 are expected to watch the match on the big screens.

It is the over-riding hope of everyone concerned that there is no trouble. But as Frings08 wrote in response to my blog on Tuesday: "The mood in Germany is one of apprehension. Most of us Germans are worried about the potentially violent consequences of the semi-final."

Turkey fans desperate to get a view of their heroes

There is also a sizeable Turkish community in Basel, while an estimated 60,000 Germans are expected to make the short trip across the border to Switzerland for the game. Many Turkish fans turned up at the stadium on Tuesday evening to try to catch a glimpse of their heroes ahead of the team's final training session, climbing railings to improve their vantage point.

Coach Terim has more than enough to occupy his attention without thinking about what might happen off the pitch. With five players out injured and four suspended, preparations have been far from straightforward.

But if selection issues are playing on his mind, he wasn't giving much away. He described his players as "strong and courageous", talked about their ambition, quoted Albert Einstein and said Turkey had not yet completed what they came here to do.

Terim's rambling answers often seemed to have only a notional relevance to the question, and he reminded me of a grave and serious lecturer imparting on his charges information so profound they would only partially comprehend what he had to say.

The 54-year-old's team have staged three astonishing comebacks to defeat Switzerland, Czech Republic and Croatia, but he swatted away any talk of miracles. "As far as I know, there are three possible results in football and 'miracle' is not one of them," he said. "I do not believe in miracles."

Before Terim arrived for his chat with the media, I spoke to Turkish television commentator Kerem Oncel, who had a more rational explanation for the team's glut of late goals. American trainer Scott Piri, part of the German backroom staff at the 2006 World Cup, has been working with Turkey, and his methods, reckons Oncel, have been paying dividends.

I asked Oncel how many people back home would be watching the match on TV and listening to his commentary. "All of Turkey," came the modest reply. The exploits of the Turkey team, he added, had given great pleasure to the many poor people, who have temporarily forgotten their problems. Terim, likewise, noted that what his team have done has united a people known for their "heated debate".

For the Germans, reaching the last four of a major tournament is hardly new territory, and, with a match against a decimated side, there is guarded optimism that "Die Mannschaft", as they are known back home, will be in Vienna on Sunday.

Torsten Frings has overcome a rib problem to play against Turkey

Torsten Frings will return for the game despite his broken rib, with Simon Rolfes, known as the new Michael Ballack in Germany, making way.

Frings is one of three leaders of the team - along with Jens Lehmann and Ballack - but he has not yet recaptured the form he showed in 2006. Back then, he was seen as a key reason why Germany reached the last four - and many still believe that had he played against Italy the team would have reached the final.

Frings was suspended retrospectively for that match after Italy appealed to Fifa following the midfielder's part in a post-match scuffle following Germany's quarter-final victory over Argentina. Needless to say, Italy's defeat on penalties to Spain was greeted with much joy in Germany.

Opinion is split as to whether the current German team is superior to the World Cup side of two years ago, but there is widespread approval for Loew. He is very professional when dealing with the media, a shrewd tactician and a great enthusiast of the game.

One German radio journalist - Burkhard Hupe of ARD - told me that he is the most tactically complete coach of their national team since Sepp Herberger, the legendary figure who presided over the 1954 World Cup success.

Loew's approval rating with his national media might have slipped slightly on Tuesday, when he turned up 25 minutes late for his press conference. It was most uncharacteristically German, prompting Loew to apologise at length.

Loew went on to pay tribute to the fast pace of the Premier League for ensuring that Ballack has been so fit and strong at this tournament - he ran further than any other player during the group stage - and talked up the mental strength of Turkey.

He looked serious but relaxed, and nattily dressed as always in a light brown shirt that must have been made to measure. But then, with the assembled media starting to hit their stride, he was off, just five minutes after he arrived.

The coach had a huge grin as he left the stage, suggesting a man for whom all is right in the world. But will he still be smiling on Wednesday night?

Paul Fletcher is a broadcast journalist at BBC Sport Interactive. Please check our FAQs if you have any questions.


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