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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 14 hours ago
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By ESPN Staff
Jun 30, 2008

Metzelder tells Germany to target 2010 World Cup

Defender Christoph Metzelder does not feel Germany ever managed to find top gear during Euro 2008 and is hoping for an improved showing in the World Cup in two years' time.

Although they reached a record sixth European Championship final, Germany lost to Croatia during the group stages, were hugely fortunate to get past Turkey in the semi-finals and were then beaten by Spain in Sunday's final.

A runners-up spot is still something to be proud of but Metzelder believes Germany were much more impressive at the 2006 World Cup, where they finished third, and during qualifying for Euro 2008.

'We still have a very young team and I don't think that in this tournament we were able to show the quality that we did in 2006 and qualification,' said the Real Madrid defender.

'We had to fight very hard to reach this final. I think we have much more quality to show and we have to improve as a team.

'We now have two years to qualify for the World Cup and try to reach the final again.'

Germany begin their World Cup qualifying campaign against Liechtenstein on September 6.

Several other Germany players echoed Metzelder's thoughts.

Midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger said: 'We've got things to improve on and I'm sure we will. Then we'll see how it goes in two years' time when we go to South Africa.'

Fellow midfielder Torsten Frings added: 'We have to improve in almost every part of our team, but that doesn't mean that everything was bad - we reached the final of the European Championship.'

Defender Per Mertesacker said: 'We hope that we can improve from these games and learn from them. We are still a young side and a good squad that wants to improve.

'We have reached a point where you can say 'It's not the end'.'

None of the Germany players begrudged Spain their victory at the Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna, though.

Joachim Low's side enjoyed a promising start to the final but Spain gradually fought their way back into the contest before Fernando Torres' fine finish in the 33rd minute.

After that there only looked likely to be one winner as Spain dominated possession, created chances and barely allowed Germany a chance.

'It's very disappointing, but the better side won - they deserved to win the title,' added Hitzlsperger.

'It was quite difficult. We started very well but after the first goal [it was tough].

'Their passing ability is really good. They hardly give the ball away, don't make any mistakes and you've got to chase the ball.

'That's a tough thing because then you get tired towards the end of the game when you need the strength and the power, and you don't have it any more because they pass the ball so well.'

Spain's victory in Vienna extended their winning streak to 12 matches and their unbeaten run to 22 games, but Hitzlsperger believes only time will tell if the Iberian nation can continue being Europe's dominant team over the next few years.

'They've won this tournament and they deserved to win it, but if they will be the best team in Europe for years to come, you don't really know,' the former Aston Villa player said.

'They've got really good players, most of them are very young still but it's always difficult to progress in the same manner. They've done well, but we'll see how it goes.'

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