ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a dangerous game writing off the Germans, as many soccer betting pundits and bookmakers did midway through Euro 2008.Ã‚Â
Joachim LowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s men were the pre-tournament favourites but after defeat to Croatia in the group stage, Germany were eased in the market allowing the shrewd punters to take the value about them.Ã‚Â
LowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s men were far from impressive in qualification for the quarter-finals, but once again they came good at the right time and getting a football bet on LowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s men going all the wayÃ‚Â at greater odds of 2/1 is nowÃ‚Â impossible.Ã‚Â
They were in imperious form against Portugal on Thursday and were full value for their 3-2 success after capita lising on PortugalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s inability to defend set-pieces.Ã‚Â
That triumph inspired by Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Ballack has put the German machine back in pole position for glory on June 29 in Vienna and looking at the way the draw has opened up for them itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to oppose them.Ã‚Â
Fortuitous might be the word to describe the Nationalmannschaft, but in the last-eight tie with Luiz Filipe ScolariÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Portugal the Germans were too powerful. Low had certainly done his homework and knew the Portuguese had a phobia against heading the ball inside their own box and who better than Ballack and co to capitalise on that?Ã‚Â
They have a knack of forgetting their inadequacies in the group stages and focusing solely on the knock-out match in hand Ã¢â‚¬â€œ usually with measured success.Ã‚Â
Germany have won the Euros three times and finished as runners-up twice Ã¢â‚¬â€œ comfortably the best record around and attempting to stop them improve on that in the semi-finals will be Turkey.Ã‚Â
But the Turks will be decimated by injuries and suspensions and LowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s men are already asÃ‚Â short as 1.3 to reach the final in Vienna. The Turks have personified entertainment at the tournament so far after a late win against Switzerland, a late triumph against the Czech Republic and a ridiculously last-ditch draw with Croatia. They then won through to the semis on penalties, but Lady Luck seems to be with the Germans as Fatih Terim will be lucky if he can field a side because of injuries and suspensions.Ã‚Â
Germany are rubbing their hands at the prospect of next weekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s dateÃ‚Â against Turkey, with confidence and self-belief sky high and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to see any other outcome than Germany in yet another showpiece final.
By Phil Tomlinson
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