Captain Michael Ballack is reporting an air of quiet confidence and calm in the Germany camp ahead of their Euro 2008 semi-final against Turkey tonight, with lessons learnt from earlier in the tournament.
Germany came into the competition as one of the big favourites but after starting with an impressive 2-0 win over Poland they were brought crashing to earth in their second match by Croatia - the team Turkey beat in the quarter-finals.
That 2-1 loss to Slaven Bilic’s men left Germany needing a result in their final group match against Austria to go through, and for Ballack the defeat also gave his side a huge wake-up call.
Since then there have been no more slip-ups, with Joachim Low’s men easing past Austria 1-0 and then recording a fine 3-2 victory over the highly-fancied Portuguese in the quarter-final.
Looking back Ballack admits that while the performances in the games against Croatia and Portugal were very different, he believes they both served to make Germany a better team heading into tonight’s meeting with the Turks at St Jakob Park in Basle.
“Portugal were treated as the big favourites. When you knock this team out of the tournament in such a way, then that gives us immense self-belief. That was exactly the game the we needed at this stage of the tournament,” said Ballack (pictured).
“The hardest phase of the tournament has been weathered. I sense lots of positives, but also a certain calmness.
“I have the feeling that we will not play another game like we did against Croatia.”
The Chelsea midfielder insists the team’s self-belief did not disappear following the loss to Croatia in Klagenfurt, but admits the result brought certain things into focus.
“Our self-confidence was always there and we have not let ourselves be distracted by the external criticism. But you can’t always say: everything is fine, everything is great,” he added.
Germany coach Low looks set to have a full-strength squad to choose from with Torsten Frings seemingly recovered from a rib injury.
Meanwhile Turkey forward Semih Senturk is happy for everyone to continue to write his side off as they look to make it through to a European Championship final for the first time on tomorrow night.
Turkey are already in uncharted waters having never before progressed beyond the quarter-finals of this competition, and for most they will be major underdogs.
However, that outsiders tag fits just fine for Semih, who said: “Everybody thinks Germany are favourites against us. But it is only motivating us even more.