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Indomitable Turkey believe in miracles

Turkey's route to the last four at UEFA EURO 2008™ has been a roller-coaster journey of emotion – and it is a ride Fatih Terim's squad certainly want to remain on.

Turkey's players celebrate after winning the penalty shoot-out against Croatia
Turkey's players celebrate after winning the penalty shoot-out against Croatia ©Getty Images

The people of Turkey are starting to believe in miracles. Grouped alongside Portugal, one of the pre-tournament favourites, co-hosts Switzerland and a cultured Czech Republic team, few would have tipped Fatih Terim's side as one of the potential dark horses for the title.

Route to the last four
Three successive and increasingly remarkable comebacks later, however, Turkey have made it to the final four, one match away from their first major tournament final and all after losing their Group A opener against Portugal 2-0. They then came from a goal down to defeat Switzerland – Semih Şentürk and Arda Turan providing the second-half strikes – and rescued an even more desperate situation against the Czech Republic, winning 3-2 after being two goals behind with 15 minutes remaining, to qualify for the quarter-finals. That match, against Croatia, was goalless until the final regulation minute of extra time when Turkey fell behind. However, they responded through Semih with the last kick of the game and won the subsequent shoot-out 3-1. Yet with suspensions and injuries piling up, their next mission, against a Germany team gaining some serious momentum, could prove the toughest yet. Coach Terim must put his side's indomitable spirit to the test once again. It certainly will not come easily, but, then again, miracles rarely do.

Semi-final record 
This is their first semi-final in this competition, though they did lose to Brazil at the same stage of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Key moment
Semih's equaliser as a substitute against Switzerland – followed by Arda's winner. The victory transformed Turkey's campaign and prefigured the even more remarkable comebacks against the Czech Republic and Croatia.

Key player
Though he will not play again in the tournament due to a thigh injury, it has to be striker Nihat Kahveci, who assumed the captaincy when Emre Belözoğlu succumbed to injury. Ploughing a lone furrow against Portugal in the opening game, the Villarreal CF player experienced a frustrating start to his UEFA EURO 2008™ campaign, but his fortunes were to improve dramatically. His decisive goals against the Czechs in the final group game smoothed Turkey's route to the quarter-final and he worked tirelessly for 117 minutes against Croatia to help his side progress before injury struck.

Injuries and suspensions
Four players are banned: Volkan Demirel is serving the second game of his two-match suspension while defender Emre Aşık and midfielders Tuncay Şanlı and Arda Turan will also miss the semi-final after bookings against Croatia. Nihat has followed the stricken Emre Güngör in returning home and their injury list also includes Servet Çetin (hip and knee), Tümer Metin (groin) and Emre Belözoğlu (hamstring). That trio could all miss the semi.

Having employed a 4-2-3-1 formation with Mehmet Aurélio and Mehmet Topal in holding midfield roles, Terim altered his system against the Czech Republic and switched to a front two with Semih alongside Nihat. However, his tinkering clearly never produced the desired effect as he switched Semih with Sabri Sarıoğlu, duly employed in right midfield, for the second half, thus reverting to his original tactics. Mounting injuries and suspensions have played their part in his plans, too. Ayhan Akman is the only outfield player in the squad who has not been used at some stage. For the match against Germany, Terim has only 12 definitely fit and available outfield players and could start with Gökdeniz Karadeniz and Kazım Kazım in midfield.

Shoot-out record
The penalty shoot-out in the Croatia game was their first in a major tournament.

What the papers said
• "Nothing is impossible. It only takes time." Coach Fatih Terim transmits positive messages to his team.

• "Now I can understand why they named us 'Crazy Turks'." Emre Aşık,referring to the best-selling book of the same name.

• "For the neutrals, it will be a good game to watch." Kazım Kazım's prediction for the quarter-final against Croatia proved true in the end.

• "We're going to Vienna!" Hürriyet after the victory over the Czechs sealed a quarter-final date with Croatia at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion.

• "Thanks for your help, Čech." Akşam refers to the Czech Republic goalkeeper's mistake for Turkey's equalising goal in the final group game.

• "Who else has such great heart?" Milliyet praises Turkey's refusal to give up hope against Croatia.

• "Turks, you will never forget!" Sabah on the morning after the last-eight triumph.