Mertesacker: Everyone is motivated for Turkey
Germany defender Per Mertesacker has vowed the team will not take it easy against Turkey tomorrow, despite having already qualified for UEFA EURO 2012. There is a lot more riding on the Group A clash in Istanbul for the hosts, who are battling it out with Belgium for second place and a play-off spot.
The Turks sit two points ahead of Belgium with two games to go, but the picture could change tomorrow with the Belgians facing the much easier task of a home game with Kazakhstan. "We are a very good team and our squad is becoming more balanced," Mertesacker said on www.dfb.de, the German football association's official website.
"We are blessed with quality in every position. As a result it's out of the question that some of our players won't give everything. Everyone is motivated, everyone wants to show the coach (Joachim Low) what they can do. We don't have many games left before the European Championship and each one is important to us. There can be no let-up."
Turkey, who reached the semi-finals of UEFA EURO 2008 before losing a thrilling game to Germany, lost 3-0 to Low's side last year, but coach Guus Hiddink knows a positive result in the return fixture will take them to the verge of a play-off place. His side host Azerbaijan in their final qualifier, while Belgium are away to Germany. "If we get to the finals I consider myself to have been successful," Hiddink was quoted by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf newspaper as telling a press conference. "In training I see the players laugh. They are enthusiastic."
Turkey let Belgium back into the race for second place by drawing 0-0 in Austria last month, and Belgium coach Georges Leekens knows his side cannot afford to take pool basement boys Kazakhstan lightly. "Over there we won 2-0, despite a difficult evening," he said in De Standaard newspaper. "They can be a solid side. It will not be easy, but we certainly have the qualities to win."