Germany say Argentina a step-up from England

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The Independent Football

Oliver Bierhoff has admitted Germany will find it harder to beat Argentina tomorrow than they did to overcome England.

While the Three Lions are licking their wounds at home, Germany are preparing for a repeat of the 1990 World Cup final, and looking to book their third consecutive appearance in the last four.

Before the tournament began, England were rated as more likely than Argentina to lift the coveted gold trophy.

But all that quickly changed as Fabio Capello's men crashed out last weekend, suffering their biggest defeat at German hands in Bloemfontein, hours before Argentina cruised past Mexico.

"It is not going to be easy on Saturday because Argentina are a stronger side than England," said Bierhoff.

"There were some obvious English weaknesses that had all been there in the group stages.

"Argentina are much more powerful and stronger. They have very few weaknesses - although there must be some."

It appears Germany do not have a high opinion of England - and it is shared by Argentina, judging by the comments of defender Martin Demichelis when he was questioned about his recent poor form.

Despite high-profile mistakes for Bayern Munich in the Champions League final against Inter Milan and the World Cup group match with South Korea, Demichelis insists he is not performing that badly - not as badly as John Terry for instance.

"Seeing the way Terry played against Germany, if I was Terry I wouldn't be able to go back to my country," said Demichelis.

It was the kind of withering assault Germany skipper Phillip Lahm delivered when he admitted he does not even think of the Three Lions as a big team anymore.

"Now we are up against our own big five," said Lahm, with reference to the jungle animals that are such a prominent feature of life in South Africa.

"We have to show we can finally beat a big team - someone like Argentina, Brazil or Spain.

"Definitely, these are bigger opponents than England."

That England are now longer regarded as a big team by the country they regard as a benchmark may fly in the face of evidence provided by that famous 5-1 win in Munich, or even the 2-1 triumph in Berlin under Capello in November 2008.

However, undeniably, when it counts, Germany have an ingredient England do not.

"It is the mentality," claimed Lahm.

"At a very early age every young player learns how to deal with troublesome, complex, pressure situations.

"Even at 13 or 14 new players arrive at big-name clubs and force the others out.

"Dealing with things like that gives you the right kind of mentality. It makes you mentally strong and lets you know you can survive real pressure when you experience it later on."