Lahm: Germany better now than in 2006

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Posted Sunday, June 13, 2010 by PA

Germany captain Philipp Lahm has claimed the current side is better than the one that almost reached the World Cup final four years ago.

The Germans open their campaign against Group D rivals Australia in Durban, and Lahm is confident his team will not disappoint fans.

"We really want to start with a win," said the 26-year-old Lahm. "It will give the young team even more security.

"There is even more confidence in the team because we did so well in the warm up games which was not the case back in 2006."

The Germans enjoyed a fine preparation with 3-0 wins over Malta and Hungary before claiming a 3-1 triumph over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Frankfurt prior to travelling to Pretoria.

Despite the absence of experienced skipper Michael Ballack through an ankle injury, Lahm has no doubt in his mind that this team has all the ingredients to succeed.

"I think this is the best German team in which I have played," said Lahm, who has won 65 caps and scored four goals.

"Everyone is excited and ready to play.

"Today we have more players who will go on the attack during a 1-1 draw.

"We have more hands-on types, not so typically German."

Joachim Low's side has an average age of 24.96, Germany's lowest at a World Cup since 1934.

Lahm will become their youngest World Cup captain when he leads the team out against Australia.

"We are a young and hungry team," said Lahm. "It's noticeable at every training session the team trains with great enthusiasm and tempo."

The Bayern Munich defender, who made his senior debut in February 2004, knows what kind of pressure to expect in the tournament.

He was in the teams that finished third in the World Cup in 2006 and runners-up at Euro 2008.

"I have no fear at this World Cup," he said.

"As a captain I have to be courageous but I also want to be nice off the pitch."

Lahm knows how crucial it is to get off to a good start and expects his side to get the job done against Australia.

"We can set the world alight but winning the first game is absolutely imperative," he said.

"Being part of a World Cup is a key event in anyone's life and we want to hit the ground running.

"I want every player to bring their best performance to every game and I want every player to enter this tournament with the best possible feeling."

Australia are bracing themselves for a huge test.

Socceroos captain Lucas Neill had admitted that even if his team are at their best, that still might not be good enough to beat the Germans.

"There is never a good time to face a team like Germany," said Neill.

"It doesn't get any tougher than taking on one of the best teams in the world. Germany are favourites.

"They are a superior side to us, they have earned that right and we still have to earn that.

"Germany are consistent, they have players in the best leagues in Europe. They are a nation that expects to get to semi-finals and finals in every tournament.

"We all regard Germany as the best team in this group."

Germany, who last won the World Cup in 1990, usually hit the ground running.

"I don't think they have lost their past 12 opening World Cup games," said Neill.

"It's probably the toughest game to be playing.

"We know we will have to be at our very, very best."

With games against Ghana and Serbia also awaiting Australia, Neill knows it will take a huge undertaking for his side to reach the last 16 as they did in 2006.

"All three games are going to be tough," said Neill.

"There is pressure heading into the first game because everyone knows that if you lose, it's difficult to progress to the next stage.

"We know how tough it is going to be. No one is getting carried away. We face the three most difficult games in our career.

"We respect all our opponents but we will not go to our game with fear."

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