Durban: Hundreds of thousands of German fans will be waiting for their World Cup team's return to Berlin and midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger does not want to head to the capital again without a trophy.
Germany face European champions Spain in Wednesday's semi-final in Durban hoping to improve on their 2006 exit at the same stage when they hosted the tournament and a defeat by the Spaniards in the Euro 2008 final in Vienna.
Supporters in Germany have been gathering in huge numbers at 'Fan Fests' to show their mass support for the team and -- as in 2006 and 2008 -- the players are expected to show up at the Brandenburg Gate after the finals in South Africa to thank them.
"Going back to Berlin to celebrate in front of hundreds of thousands was special. In 2006 we finished third and in 2008 we were second so it is clear that something is missing and we hope to fill that gap," said Schweinsteiger.
"I don't want to go back there with nothing to show -- I've done that twice already," he said.
The Germans were outclassed in the European Championship final two years ago but Schweinsteiger believes that while Spain remain the top European team, Germany have closed the gap.
"Losing a final always causes frustration and disappointment but Spain were definitely the better team," he said.
"Even though they only won 1-0 they had lots of chances and to be honest after the 70th minute we might as well have called it a day because we had no way to respond."
"If you look at it on paper there is no doubt they are the better side but maybe now we have a better chance," he added.
"Now we have fresh faces and different characters -- an unencumbered state of mind. Spain have not changed so much. Sergio Busquets in for Marcos Senna is maybe the only real change whereas we have many, many newcomers.
"Spain haven't really dazzled in the way that their fans might have hoped but they have still been winning. We need another tactical masterpiece," said Schweinsteiger.
He played a key part in the 4-1 hammering of England in the last 16 and the 4-0 quarter-final win over Argentina and said those victories show what Germany are capable of.
"In the past two games we have shown that we can beat teams that are better than us on paper. We are dying to eliminate another of the biggest guns of international football," said the midfielder.
Schweinsteiger has been transformed from an underachieving left winger into a central playmaker this season for Bayern Munich and has also thrived in that role in Germany coach Joachim Loew's system.
"The biggest change for me on a personal level is that at last I'm able to play in my favourite position. (Coach) Louis van Gaal at Bayern gave me that chance and the results have been good at club and national level," he said.
First Published: Monday, July 05, 2010, 23:41