Germany, Spain set for semifinal showdown
Durban, South Africa (Sports Network) - Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger said Spain is the "best team in the world," but also thinks there are "weaknesses" that can be exploited in Wednesday's FIFA World Cup semifinal.
Germany lost to Spain in the Euro 2008 final, and Schweinsteiger admitted the Spaniards "were much better than us back then."
The Germans have evolved into more dynamic, attacking team under boss Joachim Loew and enter the semifinal on the heels of two of the most impressive games in the entire tournament.
Germany hammered England 4-1 in the round of 16 and thrashed Argentina 4-0 in quarterfinals. Despite having the second-youngest team in the tournament, the Germans are easily the highest-scoring team in South Africa with 13 goals.
Although Spain's David Villa leads the event with five goals, his country has just six goals through five matches. Spain won each of its knockout games 1-0 - over Portugal and Paraguay.
Spain coach Vincente del Bosque returned to the praise to Germany, saying the team was "playing better than anyone right now."
Pre-tournament favorite Spain has not been as impressive to this point in the World Cup, but a win against the three-time champion Germans at Moses Mabhida Stadium would send the Spaniards to their first final.
"Germany are a great side," Spanish goalie Iker Casillas said, "so we'll need to work hard and go for it."
Since losing its tournament opener against Switzerland, Spain has won four in a row, with its other wins in the group stage over Honduras and Chile.
Spain has allowed just a single goal in its last four games, in a 2-1 victory over Chile, but will be tested by the new-look Germans.
"They are having a fantastic World Cup," Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta said, "and it's going to be a very exciting game."
Spain emerged as one of the best in the world over the last few years with an abundance of talent and overall solid team play. Defender Gerard Pique thinks the team needs to be more "ruthless" in front of goal, though.
Star striker Fernando Torres has not scored, and has not played 90 minutes in any of his five matches. Torres was pulled in the second half of the squad's knockout games and Del Bosque may have no choice but to sit Torres.
Fernando Llorente and Pedro have both played well in limited action and Spain cannot risk getting another poor showing from Torres against Germany.
Germany has made a habit of scoring early, then piling on goals in the second half throughout the tournament. Another early lead could allow Germany to hit Spain on the counter attack, which it did well against England and Argentina.
Loew will be without one of his most talented men, 20-year-old Thomas Muller, in the semifinals due to accumulated yellows. Piotr Trochowski has moved into Muller's position in his substitute appearances, but Toni Kroos, Mario Gomez, and Cacau are among the options.
Muller has been the brightest young star in South Africa, and Germany has run a lot of play through the young Bayern Munich player. However, Loew will look to continue getting contributions from the position, no matter who plays.
Considering Germany has scored four goals in three of its five games, Loew is confident about finding contributions from the replacement.
In addition, veteran Miroslav Klose also has four goals, including two in the victory over Argentina, and enters the semifinal one goal away from the all- time World Cup goal scoring record held by Brazil's Ronaldo.
Lukas Podolski has a pair of goals, and young Mesut Ozil has been another one of Germany's young stars to emerge in the World Cup spotlight. Ozil scored in the group stage, and has been a huge influence in central midfield along with Schweinsteiger.
"We could end up achieving great things and it's in our own hands," Loew said.
Schweinsteiger, one of the veterans of the team although he is just 25, knows a huge task awaits in the semifinals, but the Germans aren't satisfied yet.
"We're good enough to take the next step now and obviously we want to make the final," Schweinsteiger said. "It goes without saying that, as of now, we want more."
07/06 13:52:33 ET