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Loew salutes Spaniards

DURBAN, July 8 – Germany coach Joachim Loew hailed Spain as masters of the football universe and expressed confidence that they would beat the Netherlands in Sunday's World Cup final.Despite his frustration at his side’s failure to reproduce the kind of form with which they swept past England and Argentina in earlier rounds, Loew paid a gracious tribute to the quality of Spain’s passing game and accepted they had deserved their 1-0 semi-final victory on Wednesday.

"Of course we are disappointed, as you inevitably are when you lose a semi-final," said Loew.

"But we have to congratulate the Spanish team. They played very well and over the last two or three years they have been the most skilled team of all.

"They showed that tonight with the way they circulated the ball very quickly and we were not able to reproduce the kind of play we did in previous matches.

"I think we were a little inhibited. But it was very difficult. When we won the ball we were losing it very quickly and it was if we were not 100 percent confident.

"But that is what it is like playing against Spain. Every team playing them has to work incredibly hard."

Asked if Spain deserved to be regarded as the world’s best, the German coach replied: "Yes, I agree. They won the European Championship (in 2008) in a very convincing way. They have won all their important games for the last two or three years and they are a pretty much unchanged group of players.

"It is as if they are playing on auto-pilot now and I’m fairly confident they are going to go on and win the title.

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"When they want to be they can be very dominant and hard to control. They are just a wonderful team. They are masters of the game and you can see it in every pass."

Despite accepting his squad had come up short, Loew, who would not be drawn on whether he will continue in his current role after the tournament, believes the future of the national squad looks bright.

"The players are devastated but I would still like to congratulate them on the way they played throughout the tournament.

"We have to try and wake them up tomorrow because we still have another match — the third place play-off against Uruguay — to play."

Quizzed on his future, which has been up in the air since contract negotiations with the German federation broke down earlier this year, Loew replied: "If you are now asking if I am going to stay, we will not touch on this issue until after the tournament.

"The team though should remain the same. We have a group of excellent players and no matter who the coach is this team is here to stay.

"The development is far from over. In fact it has only just started."

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