Frankfurt, July 2 :

After nationwide celebrations, German attentions on Sunday were turning towards old nemesis Italy and Tuesday’s semi-final in Dortmund.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s men once again showed they had loads of resolve and were among the fittest teams in the tournament by equalising with 10 minutes to go against Argentina.

They then went on to comfortably win the ensuing penalty shoot-out 4-2 maintaining a flawless record in such sudden-death deciders dating back to 1982 when they eliminated France in Seville. German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann has risen to hero’s status following the match against Argentina Italy though, evoke different memories for the Germans. They have never beaten their southern neighbours in an official competition, losing four times in the World Cup and twice in the European championships. The last time the two sides met was in a friendly on March 1 when the Italians won 4-1 setting off alarm bells back home for Klinsmann.

But the mood on Sunday was radically different as German papers and fans lauded their new-found heroes and insisted they had it in them to go all the way and win a fourth World crown for Germany in Berlin on July 9. “The team has grown over the last six weeks and it is a team which is saying they can be world champions,” said Klinsmann whose popularity is growing by the game and rivals that of legendary player and coach Franz Beckenbauer.

For Argentina there was nothing but heartache as another World Cup campaign came crashing. The South Americans have failed to make it past the last eight stage since 1990, the year they lost 0-1 in the final to Germany. And they could be in trouble with FIFA after the ugly brawl, which marred the final whistle in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. German players claim that Argentine anger at losing sparked a brief free-for-all between players that saw unused substitute Leandro Cufre red-carded after the game was over for kicking German defender Per Mertesacker. Italian coach Marcello Lippi saw his side play their best match of the tournament in despatching outclassed Ukraine 3-0 in the other quarter-final.

And turning to the showdown with Germany, Lippi said that the 4-1 win Florence on March 1 had no relevance to the forthcoming game in Dortmund. “We won’t score four goals against Germany again,” he said. “They’re not the same side we met in March. That result was a bit harsh on them and a poor reflection of the German team.”

The Germans are now exploiting the enthusiasm of the whole nation and it has transformed them and they look very capable of lifting the cup with the exit of Brazil and England.