It's looking more and more like a triumph for host nation England.
Germany, France and the Czech Republic joined England in the semifinals of the European Championship, then counted the cost of getting there.Already without defender Juergen Kohler and midfielder Mario Basler, the Germans won't have captain and star striker Juergen Klinsmann for the rest of the championship. He tore a calf muscle in Sunday's 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Croatia.
French striker Christophe Dugarry, scorer of the team's first Euro '96 goal, is out with the knee problem he picked up in the victory over the Netherlands on Saturday. Christian Karembeu, one of the best right midfielders of the championship, is suspended for Wednesday's semifinal against the Czech Republic.
The Czechs, who started as 80-1 shots, but knocked out Italy and then Portugal to reach the final four, have four players suspended for the game.
With Paul Gascoigne confident of getting over the ankle injury he sustained in the shootout victory over Spain on Saturday, England's only loss is expected to be suspended right fullback Gary Neville, while midfielder Paul Ince returns from suspension.
With two-time titlist Germany facing England in the semifinals, France has been elevated to 7-4 favorite to win the championship, because it meets the outsiders of the four, the Czechs.
But the French still have to face the lively Karel Poborsky, who scored a memorable goal in the 52nd minute Sunday to beat the Portuguese 1-0.
With no support and four Portuguese defenders around him, Poborsky pushed the ball into a gap and forced goalkeeper Vitor Baia to rush off his goal line.
A fifth defender, Helder Cristovao, charged in with a sliding tackle. But Poborsky audaciously chipped the ball over the advancing goalkeeper.
"I thought he'd missed it," Czech coach Duran Uhrin said.
"I felt incredible joy after the goal," said Poborsky. "The result is No. 1 and we haven't finished yet."
German coach Berti Vogts, who watched his team struggle to victory over Croatia, admitted he will be fielding a second string strike force against England at Wembley on Wednesday.
"England can rejoice, Klinsmann won't be able to play Wednesday," said Vogts, who added striker Fredi Bobic also went out with a dislocated shoulder and is doubtful against the English.
Klinsmann had an eventful 38 minutes on the field.
The Bayern Munich striker was shown a yellow card after six minutes, scored on a penalty kick for his third goal of the championship after 20, and then limped off with the injury.
After Davor Suker tied it for Croatia in the 51st minute, Matthias Sammer moved up to join the depleted attack and took a crossing pass from fellow defender Markus Babbel to score the winner in the 58th minute.