This being the internet, with all its multimedia possibilities, could somebody cue in the music from Twilight Zone now?
Thanks, that's better. It fits the time-tunnel mood I find myself in. Because if you cast your mind back to June 20 and the column about the Portugal game, I was tempted to save myself some time by just copying and pasting the first three paragraphs into this here piece, with only minor adjustments.
To spare you having to click on the 'archive' link, the Portugal article opened with the remark that, regardless of our respective allegiances, we should first and foremost consider ourselves lucky to have seen a dramatic knock-out game with more than four goals, as this has happened only three times before in the history of the tournament.
And it's not just the same amount of goals, of course. It's also the same winner with the same starting line-up. And it's the first two goals being scored on 22 and 26 minutes and another one coming three or four minutes from time.
Now we'll have to fade out the Twilight Zone theme, since we've already reached the end of the time tunnel, the place where the similarities between the two matches end.
Because while the first part of the Portugal column dealt with all that Germany had done right, simple decency demands that I now relegate our own team to the second half of this piece and first take off my Pirates cap (the only hat I have) to salute Turkey.
I guess there's basically four things we have to praise the Turks for. These are, in rising order of importance: morale, stamina, courage and cleverness. Morale because they stomached another goalkeeping gaffe to come back yet again and tie the match late. Stamina because I spent the larger parts of the second half wondering when their legs would finally give in. Those things, however, were to be expected.
What obviously caught Germany, meaning the team, by surprise was Turkey's courage and cleverness. Courage was taking the game to the favourites, an approach no doubt bolstered by the early realisation that the German defence was all over the place, and not just physically.
But blessed with the benefit of hindsight, I have to ask myself if their courage might have cost the Turks dear. When his team took a much-deserved lead, you could see Fatih Terim at the sideline, making a series of gestures which I interpreted to mean: don't sit back now, go and knock them out because they are reeling!
Like I said, it's only an interpretation, perhaps he was trying to convey something else. But over the next minutes the Turks did indeed press forward instead of retreat. That made for a highly entertaining remainder of the first half, if a quite bizarre one. Joachim Löw later used the expression 'a confusing game', by which he meant, I think, that it was suddenly end-to-end stuff, with Turkey attacking and Germany hitting them on the break.
That was strange, confusing indeed. Consider that Germany's equaliser came from a four-against-five counter attack you'd normally expect from the team that is a goal up. And consider that Germany's next chance, Lukas Podolski's strike on 34 minutes, came from yet another fast break and was the kind of move we'd thought the opposition would periodically attempt.
So, did the Turks make a mistake by looking for a second goal instead of sitting on the one they had? Having a glance at the final scoreline, one is tempted to say yes and argue that the Germans would have become even more nervous and error-prone if the Turks had made it into the break with their lead intact.
But that's coulda, woulda, shoulda. And after yesterday's game I'm inclined to think we'd better not argue football with Fatih Terim. Because, and this is where cleverness comes in, he had Löw well and truly outsmarted.
Terim obviously made all the right guesses - that Löw would not only field the same XI but also use the same formation as he'd done against Portugal - and had the right answer in almost every area of the pitch. Kazim and Sabri capitalised on the fact that Podolski's defensive problems would leave our left flank wide open. Mehmet Aurelio did a bit of old-fashioned man-marking against Ballack, a potentially risky decision that depended on Ayhan and Altintop putting so much pressure on Simon Rolfes and Thomas Hitzlsperger that they would only seldom make use of the gaps which opened up when Ballack moved around with Mehmet Aurelio in his wake.
But in football, nothing ever works for the full 90 minutes. Hitzlsperger did find the time and the space to make three killer passes, two of which led to goals. And of course there was nothing Terim could do to prevent Rüstü from misjudging a cross. Or to prevent his players from tiring - Kazim simply had nothing left in the final minute and so Lahm just ran past him to start the deciding one-two.
Thus Terim, who'd been lucky not to lose the Croatia match (in regulation time), was unlucky to lose this game. Put differently, Löw was lucky on the night - and that's exactly what he looked like after the final whistle. Meaning he sat there with the gaunt, even disheveled, worried look of a man who strongly believes luck should not have to be a factor in a sporting contest and has just come to realise he'd be out of the competition if that were really the case.
For the second time in this tournament, I had to shake my head at a coach I quite like, both as a person and in his job. It had become apparent early on in the game that we were not only yet again mentally unprepared for the game but also using misguided tactics. Which is why I had told my wife during the break we would now switch back to 4-4-2, and since I hate it when my predictions don't come true I was hoping the interviewer would ask Löw why he didn't make any substantial changes to how we played.
I was in for a few surprises. The first was that Löw brought up the subject himself. The second was that he said: 'Today we certainly would have needed a second central striker upfront.' The third was that he then said: 'But we were also having problems in midfield, and so I didn't want to change the formation during the course of the game.'
I guess I will spend the days until the final trying to make sense of those statements. And I hope that I will not have to come to the conclusion that the national coach has been telling us he's detected two problems, upfront and in midfield, and decided to rectify them by... not doing anything.