From ordinary fans right up to the country's leader, Germans everywhere have heaped praise on their national football team after it ran riot against Diego Maradona's Argentina in their World Cup quarterfinal clash.
Soccer fans across Germany celebrated their team's win
Germany's 4-0 demolition of Argentina in their World Cup quarterfinals clash was a sign of the team's "class," according to coach Joachim Loew following a win that sent Germans everywhere into raptures.
Following the full-time whistle, Germans ran onto the streets in joy and embraced one another after watching their team roll over an underdone Argentina. Others formed up motorcades to tour their cities, waving flags from car windows and honking horns.
Joachim Loew said there was now real belief his young team could go on to win the trophy for the first time in 20 years.
"We really turned in an incredible showing. Scoring four goals against Argentina you just have to say that that was class. And we closed down (Lionel) Messi very well - without resorting to fouls, so that was great," said Loew.
Loew's men tore apart Diego Maradona's Argentina, with long-serving striker Miroslav Klose scoring a brace, center-back Arne Friedrich enjoying a tap-in and 20-year-old Thomas Mueller heading in his fourth of the tournament.
The only downside of the game for the Germans was that Mueller picked up a yellow card late in the first half, meaning he will now miss Germany's semifinal clash with Spain on Wednesday.
Loew said the Bayern Munich man would be sorely missed.
"The fact that we won't have Mueller in the semifinal is a serious blow as over the past few matches he has shown how dangerous he is," Loew said. "I really don't see why he got booked. The ball touches his thigh, then touches his arm from a really short distance."
Merkel, center-right, said watching the game was 'overwhelming'
Germany vice captain Bastian Schweinsteiger, who played an integral role in the quarterfinal win, applauded his teammates for their collective performance.
"We played very well. I am very proud of the team," he said. "The early goal was decisive for us. We are strong enough to go further. The team is very young, but what we lack in experience we make up for in audacity and a carefree approach."
Among the 64,000 packed into Green Point Stadium in Cape Town to cheer on the Germans was the country's leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel, who paid a post-match visit to the players in their dressing room.
Mueller said that Merkel had told the team that the game had been wonderful.
"She said that she was shivering and shaking with excitement and it was only after the second and third goal that she started to relax and she then turned to South African President Jacob Zuma, next to whom she was sitting, and said that Germany was going to win," Mueller said.
Merkel called the victory "overwhelming" and "a dream."
Speaking to ZDF television from Cape Town, Merkel said that "Germany has done something wonderful today," adding that "it was overwhelming. This is a dream, just a dream. This is a young team but the way they played was very good. They didn't give Argentina much space."
End of Maradona experiment?
Speculation is now rife that Maradona will step down from his post
Much speculation in Argentina will now focus on the post-World Cup future of Diego Maradona, who hinted strongly after the loss to Germany that he would now quit as head coach.
"I'm going to be 50 on October 30th, and this is the hardest thing I've had to go through because I'm in front of so many good players and good people," he said at the post-match press conference.
"It's like a knock-out punch from Muhammad Ali, and I don't have the strength to do anything. It wasn't the ending we'd hoped for, but I believe that whoever comes in next will have to continue on the same path because it's the path the Argentines want."
Meanwhile, the Argentine press focused their attention on Germany's "steamroller" performance.
"Germany laid bare all the deficiencies of the Argentine side which, with neither Carlos Tevez, Messi or (Gonzalo) Higuain at their best, had no answers in the face of adversity," wrote La Nacion daily.
"Argentina had a bad time of it and left the World Cup stage on the end of a thrashing from a German steamroller," was the assessment of the Infobae news website.
The daily Clarin argued that Lionel Messi had not been used properly and was played too deep.
"He hung back too much for the ball to reach him. He had a few bursts, which gave hope, yet the Germans had him in their grip pretty much throughout. He left the tournament without exploding into life or scoring any goals," was the paper's assessment.
Author: Darren Mara (dpa/AFP)
Editor: Nigel Tandy