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Euro 2008 build-up

Shock for Hamit as FCB stars run into form

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With a week to go until Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, World Cup holders Italy and joint favourites Germany recorded morale-boosting warm-up wins, but France were held to a draw and FCB midfielder Hamit Altintop is a real doubt for the continental showdown after sustaining an injury in training.

The Bayern dynamo, who has only just returned from a fractured metatarsal and played for the first time in two months as Turkey fell 3-2 to Uruguay last Sunday, sprained an adductor muscle in a national squad workout on Friday. He had earlier failed to complete the Turks’ final pre-tournament friendly, a 2-0 win against Finland in Duisburg on Thursday, due to a pulled muscle.

Halil for Hamit?

The 25-year-old wide player, who reported to Bayern chief medic Dr Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt on Saturday for treatment, is now rated very doubtful for Turkey’s Euro opener against Portugal on 7 June. If Altintop fails to recover fitness before his country’s first match at the tournament, coach Fatih Terim would be permitted to call up a replacement. The candidates include fellow Bundesliga pros Yildiray Bastürk (VfB Stuttgart) and Hamit’s twin brother Halil Altintop (Schalke 04), both surprisingly omitted from the final squad announced last week.

The Turkey party is set to depart their training camp near the Westphalia town of Marienfeld on Sunday and fly from Münster to their Geneva tournament base. The Turks meet the Portuguese, co-hosts Switzerland and the Czech Republic in Group A.

Tonic for Toni

Elsewhere in the build-up programme, World Cup holders Italy oozed class as a side spearheaded by Bayern striker Luca Toni comfortably won their final warm-up match, defeating Belgium 3-1 on Friday evening in Florence courtesy of a first-half Antonio Di Natale brace and a 48th minute Mauro Camoranesi strike. Sub Wesley Sonck netted a late consolation for the Red Devils, who lined up in Tuscany without Daniel van Buyten. The Italians comprise one quarter of a Group of Death at Euro 2008 along with the Netherlands, France and Romania.

Euro 2000 winners the French with Bayern pair Franck Ribéry and Willy Sagnol had a less positive time of it in a goalless draw with Paraguay in Toulouse. Ribéry was among the guilty as the home side dominated but declined to make use of their chances. The Bayern winger was rested for the second half, while Sagnol failed to get off the bench. The French have one more friendly ahead of the tournament, a meeting with Colombia at the Stade de France in Paris next Tuesday.

Germany also go into the continental contest on the back of a win after defeating Serbia 2-1 in Gelsenkirchen on Saturday evening. Coach Joachim Löw’s men turned in a much-improved display compared to a drab 2-2 draw with Belarus in midweek, although a string of defensive errors will have given cause for concern among the coaching staff.

Four Reds for Germans

A 53,951 crowd at the Schalke Arena saw the home side deservedly come from behind and win with two late goals, Oliver Neuville (74) and Michael Ballack (82) both profiting from good work by Bayern full-back Marcell Jansen. The visitors had taken an 18th-minute lead through Bosko Jankovic.

“Losing the last game before the Euro wouldn’t have been great,“ Germany skipper and former Munich midfielder Ballack commented, “it was definitely better today [than against Belarus], but it’s not 100 percent yet.“ Bayern trio Philipp Lahm, Jansen and Bastian Schweinsteiger started the match, with Lukas Podolski coming on at half-time for Lahm and making a strong case for inclusion in the first-choice line-up with an energetic performance. Miroslav Klose and soon-to-be Bayern midfielder Tim Borowski were both rested.