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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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By ESPN Staff

Lahm aims to complete Italy revenge mission

Philipp Lahm is looking to avenge the darkest hour of Jurgen Klinsmann's two-year reign when Germany clash with Italy in the World Cup semi-finals in Dortmund.

The 41-year-old was on the brink of losing his job following a dismal performance in a 4-1 trashing in Florence on March 1.

Just three months before the start of the tournament, Germany looked nowhere near the impressive side that has staged yet another surprising run to the last four.

Lahm admitted it could not get any worse than the 'debacle of Florence', as it was dubbed in the German press.

'We hit rock bottom after the 4-1 defeat,' Lahm stated. 'We were all very downhearted and disappointed by our performance but then came the friendly against the USA.'

The left-back, who scored the first goal of the tournament in Germany's 4-2 victory over Costa Rica, believes the 4-1 win over Bruce Arena's troops three weeks later signalled the turning point.

'We said to ourselves: `It is touch and go. This game will decide where we are headed'.

'And then we took the right direction by winning that match. Now the atmosphere is great and cannot at all be compared to four months ago.'

Coincidentally, the friendly was played in Dortmund's gigantic Westfalenstadion, where Germany have won 13 of 14 international matches.

However, they have never beaten Italy in the World Cup, meaning either streak will come to an end.

'It is just great to be back in Dortmund knowing that the supporters will push us from the first second until the last,' the 22-year-old added.

Germany will be without the services of crucial holding midfielder Torsten Frings, who on Monday was suspended by FIFA for throwing a punch in the post-match brawl between Argentina and Germany. Tim Borowski looks set to replace his Werder Bremen team-mate.

Klinsmann always expected Frings to be available but said the suspension would not hamper Germany's chances.

'The team has really grown and if someone is missing there will be another player stepping in to replace him,' he stated. 'We are prepared for everything and will make the most of it.'

After igniting a huge World Cup euphoria in his country, Klinsmann feels his 'change of generation' as well as his attacking philosophy have paid off.

'It was impressive to see that a world-class team like Argentina adjusted their formation to ours,' Klinsmann said about the quarter-final victory over the Gauchos.

'They basically reacted to our style of play and to our line-up. That just shows how the respect has grown. We live our playing philosophy and believe in it.'