- 20 Jun 08, 11:09 PM
Has such an awful game ever finished in such gut-wrenching drama and contrasting emotions of joy and despair?
It was worth waiting every second of the turgid fare served up by Croatia and Turkey just for the excitement of Ivan Klasnic's last-minute header swiftly followed by Semih Senturk's last-second leveller and the subsequent penalty shoot-out.
If football is game of highs and lows, there can rarely have been greater extremes suffered by Croatia, who celebrated en masse one moment and were plunged into a pit of desperation the next.
And, with grim inevitability, I believe the real winners when the dust settles will be Germany.
And what about the opposing coaches?
Croatia's Slaven Bilic has become a flavour of the month in this tournament, but I believe he got himself too caught up in trying to celebrate victory prematurely and lost focus for vital seconds.
By all means show emotion on the touchline after a goal, but he was left looking embarrassed after he raced to leap in among his players when Klasnic headed what should have been the winner.
The coach should have been calm and calculating - not a raging ferment of excitement.
He had barely calmed down by the time Semih had stunned a team and a nation with, in this case literally, the final kick of the game.
Now we come to Turkey's Fatih Terim. The Emperor himself and fast becoming one of the real characters of Euro 2008.
He is a mixture of menace and emotion on the sidelines, and he has injected an incredible never-say-die attitude into his team.
It takes a fool to write Turkey off after three crucial last-minute goals and an advance to the semi-finals built on being in the lead for only nine minutes in the entire tournament.
So here you read the words of a fool because I do not believe Turkey will pull off a similar escape act in the semi-final against Germany.
I believe the bravery they showed to summon up that incredible equaliser will be their high spot of Euro 2008, the final act of survival of a team with a searing passion and spirit running right through them.
But that, for me, is that. Germany will beat Turkey to reach the final - in my humble opinion of course.
If I end up eating these words, I will be happy to offer my heartfelt apologies to this Turkey team and put them in print right here.
The lingering suspicion lurks in the back of your mind that, in footballing terms at least, we have another Greece on our hands here in a repeat of 2004's tournament in Portugal.
Back then, Otto Rehhagel's side manouevred their way through the competition to end as deserved winners.
Will Turkey do the same? Well if winners were built on character, survival instincts and sheer bloody-mindedness they will - but I just don't see it.
Arda Turan, Tuncay Sanli and Emre Asik are suspended for the game against Germany after picking up yellow cards against Croatia, while keeper Volkan Demirel is also suspended unless he wins an appeal.
Rustu has been a fine goalkeeper in the past, but he was a rare old mixture in Vienna and will have been the most relieved man at Euro 2008 to have the chance to redeem himself after a brainstorm on the grand scale gave Croatia what they thought was their winner.
Terim has shown fantastic motivational powers and is no coaching flash in the pan. This is not a case of The Emperor's New Clothes.
But it would take a huge under-estimation by Germany to fluff the chance of a place in the final - and they don't exactly have form for that failing.
So I will tempt fate and risk putting the curse on Germany by tipping them to beat Turkey in the semi-final.
Whatever the outcome, and I will not sit on the fence at this stage, Turkey have contributed hugely to the excitement and colour of what is turning into a classic Euro 2008.
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