Bastian Schweinsteiger says that the makeover undergone by the German team with the introduction of "fresh faces and different characters" has been instrumental in their success at the FIFA World Cup™.

Germany have been the most impressive team in South Africa so far but even so Schweinsteiger insists Spain are the favourites for tomorrow's semi-final encounter in Durban.

The two European heavyweights have had contrasting runs to the last four. Apart from a group stage blip against Serbia, Joachim Low's team have steamrollered almost every team that have crossed their path, including England and Argentina in the knockout stages.

Meanwhile the Spaniards, one of the pre-tournament favourites, have been far more subdued, having to battle their way through almost every round.

But Schweinsteiger insists the side that beat Germany in the EURO 2008 final two years ago are still "the better team on paper".

"Losing a final always causes frustration and disappointment but Spain were definitely the better team," the Bayern Munich midfielder said.

"On paper Spain are still the better team but I think we have shown in our last two games that we can beat teams that appear the better ones on paper.

"For me, Spain are the best team in the world. It will be tough just like it was against England and Argentina but I've a lot of faith in this team because we've seen what we can do if we all pull together."

Spain haven't really dazzled and if we can play as a team, just as we have done so far, then we stand a very good chance.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany midfielder

The Germans have silenced many of the doubters with their attacking brand of play, a change from previous years where they were known for their defensive prowess.

They are the leading scorers at the FIFA World Cup with 13 goals and new faces Thomas Muller, Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil have all been revelations.

Schweinsteiger continued: "Now we have fresh faces and different characters - an unencumbered state of mind. The younger players who have come in have gained experience during this tournament.

"Spain haven't changed that much. Sergio Busquets has replaced Marcos Senna but otherwise they are pretty much the same team as two years ago."

Despite admitting full respect for the European champions, he acknowledged that they have not been at their best so far in South Africa.

"Xavi, (Andres) Iniesta but also Xabi Alonso and (Gerard) Pique are great players but we still have a chance against them," he said. "They are the decisive players for Spain because without them (David) Villa and (Fernando) Torres won't get the service needed to score goals.

"Spain haven't really dazzled in the way that their fans might have hoped but they have still been winning. If we can play as a team, just as we have done so far, then we stand a very good chance."

Meanwhile, team manager Oliver Bierhoff has played down reports of a conflict developing in the Germany camp following comments by captain Philipp Lahm in the German media.

The defender, who was handed the armband after an injury to regular skipper Michael Ballack prior to the competition, told Bild newspaper the job had given him "a great deal of enjoyment" and he had no intention of easily relinquishing the role.

Former Chelsea midfielder Ballack had spent time with the team after quarter-final, but Bierhoff said: "We have freedom of speech in the team and need players willing to speak their mind. In the end, it is the coach who makes the decision over who is captain."