Newly promoted captain Philipp Lahm said he believes this young Germany team is the best he has ever played in, as they prepare to face Australia in their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ opener.
"This team is hungry, you can see it in every training session where the intensity and the enthusiasm are really high," Lahm told journalists at the Germans' training base near Johannesburg. "As far as I'm concerned, this German team is the best I've played in."
Asked to compare the team to the one which lost in the final of UEFA EURO 2008, Lahm said: "We have more players who are able to win one-on-one situations, more players who are technically strong and more players who enjoy having the ball - so fewer 'typically German' players and that is really good for us."
(We have) players who enjoy having the ball - so fewer 'typically German' players and that is really good for us.
Coach Joachim Low had no hesitation in making Lahm captain at the tender age of 26 after Michael Ballack was ruled out of the tournament when he injured his ankle playing for Chelsea in the English FA Cup final. Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski - talented youngsters when Germany hosted the tournament four years ago - have become the core of the team in the absence of 33-year-old Ballack.
The Bayern Munich left-back said he intended to repay his coach's confidence by leading the three-time FIFA World Cup winners to an opening victory over Australia in Durban on Sunday. "We want to start with a win, of course, it would help to reassure this young team. We will have to impose our own game, moving the ball forward as fast as possible," Lahm said.
"We are superior to them technically, but we will have to be careful because they are good on the counter-attack and strong in the air."
The Germans are set for a tough ride in Group D against the Australians, followed by Serbia and then CAF African Cup of Nations finalists Ghana.