Something different to feast on

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:20 PM ET

VIENNA -- It's a smorgasbord. There's a little something for everyone.

If you like something delicate, a little soft and something that's not only good for the palate, but also good for the eyes, you have Spain.

If you want something big and meaty, something that will fill you up, a sizeable portion that looks impressive on the plate, you have Germany.

If you're looking for something fun, something you can slip in your mouth quickly giving your taste buds a pop, something wonderfully satisfying and delicious that lasts longer than expected, you have Russia.

And if you're looking for a dish with tough coating on the outside and a surprise on the inside, a dish that you won't know what it is until you're almost finished, you have Turkey.

Now that's an impressive soccer feast that by late tomorrow night, should leave everyone feeling satiated.

This 2008 Euro tale written in two countries has really become a tale of two countries.

When the tale started, Russia and Turkey were bit players in a performance that was to be dominated by soccer's glamourous nations.

Instead, they are the precocious eight-year-olds who walk on stage and steal the scene, and maybe the show.

We are a long way from the final scene, but when Germany plays Turkey today in Basel and Spain attempts to slow the Russian dynamo tomorrow in Vienna, neither of the favourites will be surprised. Germany and Spain have seen those two teams cut a swath through heavily-favoured opponents.

"Their coach knows how to motivate them and they will be a very uncomfortable opponent," said German midfielder Michael Ballack at a press conference. "Hats off to them for reaching the semifinal, but we shouldn't overestimate them either."

"(Russians) have grown in confidence so much that they are practically favourites to win the competition now," said Spanish midfielder Xavi Hernandez.

The respect these teams have earned for their style of play (Russia) and determination (Turkey) will go a long way in adding to their confidence.

Turkey heads into its match with injuries and suspensions and Russia has already lost 4-1 to Spain earlier in the tournament. Everything that could've gone wrong for Russia in that game, did.

Both underdogs believe they can make the final because of the difficulties they've overcome in this tournament.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

What is there not to like about these confrontations? Spain and Russia will attack each other. An early goal will guarantee more to come.

Germany is the only team of the four that has repeatedly found international success.

It's a team that looks reborn and in control of its destiny. Whatever juices began flowing after their impressive win over Portugal have left them looking in charge of the tournament and knowing it.

But Turkey has come up with shock wins before. Not only in this tournament, but also in the 2002 World Cup. Many have forgotten that Turkey finished third in that tournament.

And they have tremendous incentive. Germany is home to nearly three million Turks, many of whom emigrated there for work. Two of Turkey's top players, Hamit Altintop and Hakan Balta, grew up in Germany and play for Bundesliga teams.

Spain will be driven by the need to keep winning. Its win over Italy ripped yet another layer away from their reputation as skilled underachievers.

But a loss to Russia and it's all undone.

So many storylines, so much is at stake for all.

It's an almost gluttonous feast of soccer for the eyes and the emotions.


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