Durban: Germany`s young team were taught a lesson by Spain in their World Cup semi-final defeat and still have lots to learn, assistant coach Hansi Flick said on Thursday.
"We have learned a lesson or two from this match. We are on the right road but it was evident we haven`t reached the end of this learning curve," said Flick, who was full of praise for the Spanish after their 1-0 victory.
"We wanted to deny them the space they needed and force them into mistakes. But you have to admit that they are one of the best teams in the world -- they are technically gifted and are great at keeping possession," he said.
Joachim Loew`s assistant added, however, that Germany had left a good impression on the tournament before coming up against the very best on Wednesday in Durban.
"If you look at the other games, the team was in the best fighting spirit and I think it wouldn`t be wrong to say that the whole world was realising, `Hey, these Germans can play`.
"We were very solid, well organised but the team we met, Spain, were in a class of their own," he said.
Flick added there was plenty of work to be done with what is clearly a highly promising generation of young German players.
"I think we will carry on as we have been doing for the past months -- we have a lot of young players who need to be schooled and educated in all disciplines.
"The team has tremendous potential. It will be a labour of love and I really have to applaud their team spirit and their professional mindset. They set the bar themselves and that was admirable," he said.
Skipper Philipp Lahm agreed they had lots of work ahead, saying: "We`re disillusioned and disappointed -- reaching the final is not something you can experience every day, its just every four years.
"We had a good tournament, we have quality but we have to continue working hard to be competing for trophies in the coming years," he added.
Lahm reiterated he would be happy to continue as captain but would have no problem if Michael Ballack returned to his usual role when he recovers from injury.
Lahm was sure there were good times ahead despite the pain of losing a second successive World Cup semi-final after being beaten as hosts in extra-time by Italy in the last tournament.
"The good thing is that I have many years left in me. I`m 26, so there will be more semi-finals. The world is our oyster for the future. It`s never easy.
"Look at Italy, France they have their problems, we have a chance to be up there in the coming years. But it`s a bitter feeling to lose a semi-final again." he said.