Germany general manager Oliver Bierhoff insists last night’s World Cup semi-final defeat by Spain marks the beginning, not the end, of a dream for his young team.
With the exception of stalwarts such as Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, most of the German side that won so many admirers before they crashed out in Durban will still be around in four years’ time.
Mesut Ozil, Manuel Neuer and Thomas Muller, whose suspension last night cost Germany their verve down the right flank, have all established themselves as stars of the future.
And Bierhoff is confident the pain they experienced in defeat will turn out to be a good thing.
”We hope this is the beginning, not the end, for this team,” said Bierhoff.
”We have some very young players with a very big future and this will be an important experience for them as they go forward in their careers.
”It is tough. If you dream, if you believe you are going to get a big performance it is hard when you lose.”
Although they have set a standard Fabio Capello must find a way of matching at Euro 2012, Germany’s inexperience, which was such a strength as they swept past England and Argentina with barely a backward glance, turned out to be their undoing.
Faced with Spain’s imperious passing game, they opted to retreat and let their opponents retain possession.
Although Spain lacked the killer instinct to punish them before Carles Puyol headed home the winner deep into the second half, by allowing themselves to become starved of the ball, Germany got frustrated and were unable to mount any sustained counter-offensive.
Toni Kroos did waste an excellent opportunity just before Puyol’s winner but it was a very rare raid, with Bierhoff accepting his team’s inexperience was a major factor in how the contest turned out.
”We put England and Argentina out but Spain are better,” he said. “They were better on the pitch. They kept the ball. They deserved to win.
”It is bad for us but we are a very young team and perhaps you could see a lack of experience.
”Some players were tired and we didn’t have the precision in our passing. We have to live with that.”
Yet Bierhoff does not believe Germany should beat themselves up about the setback.
Having scored the winner at Euro 96, Bierhoff knows exactly what it takes to succeed at a major tournament.
And he sees many of those traits in the Spain side that have now been installed as favourites to become world champions for the first time on Sunday night.
”Spain are probably the best team in the world, certainly in Europe,” he claimed.
”Against us, you could see how strong they are and how they can keep the ball.
”The truth is we didn’t find a system to break them down. It is a big disappointment not to win but overall we are very satisfied with the tournament.”