ERASMIA // The new generation of creative players is just what Germany need to avenge their loss to Spain in the 2008 European Championship final, Miroslav Klose said. The veteran forward was in an experienced German side that lost a one-sided Euro 2008 final 1-0 in Vienna. Klose said yesterday that the re-match in the World Cup semi-final in Durban on Wednesday will feature "different players, different squads" - and to Germany's advantage.
"Spain are still ruling supreme in Europe but in terms of quality I think we have improved, big time," Klose said. Young Germans who have impressed the football world in South Africa include Mesut Ozil, the playmaker; Thomas Muller, a forward and Sami Khedira, a defensive midfielder. Klose said they brought enormous quality and a fresh attitude to the team. "A few years ago people kept saying that isn't it a shame there aren't any new generations coming through; we have no forwards coming through, no creative midfielders coming through and everybody deplored that.
"But time has proved these people wrong," Klose said. Klose and Muller were both on target in knockout-round victories against England and Argentina, as Germany scored four goals each time to embarrass their old rivals. Muller collected his second yellow card of the finals in the 4-0 dismantling of Diego Maradona's Argentina on Saturday, and will sit out the game against Spain. Klose said that Spain will be the best opponent Germany have faced at this World Cup - "surely better" than England and Argentina. "Spain are the best of the three, said the 32-year-old Bayern Munich striker. "They play a fantastic game."
Klose said Spain's 1-0 quarter-final victory against Paraguay late on Saturday encouraged the German camp. "That has shown us that Spain are not unbeatable, they're not invincible. "There is a slight difference in the way they played between 2008 and now," he said. Spain's decisive goal came late from David Villa for his tournament-leading fifth goal. "He's a fantastic player," said Klose, who has four goals in his four matches. "He's left-footed, right-footed, technically gifted. He's almost as complete a player as Lionel Messi.
"He's a player that you have to combat against with a whole team, not just one defender." Klose revealed he set himself a personal target of five goals at this World Cup, and he has two games left to meet that aim. One more goal would bring him level with Ronaldo of Brazil in the all-time World Cup list with 15. Two of Ronaldo's career tally came in the 2002 World Cup final as Brazil beat Klose's Germany 2-0. "I spoke with him after the final and at the time I would not have dreamed of ever coming close to him, needing two more goals to surpass him," Klose said. "I hope he's not too worried."