TENERO, Switzerland With a homecoming party from the European Championship already organized, Germany hopes to bring a special guest to the festivities: the winner's trophy.
That will require beating Spain in Sunday's final in Vienna, and the Germans think they know how to do that, despite lavishing praise on their opponent.
"We have demonstrated what capabilities we possess, although we should put Spain one step above us," Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff said Friday at the training base in southern Switzerland. "But this was the case against Portugal as well, and it doesn't have to be to our disadvantage."
Germany showed it can deal with a fancied Iberian attack by ousting the favored Portuguese from the quarterfinals with a 3-2 win. Coach Joachim Loew said Spain had played a "very impressive" game in its 3-0 semifinal win over Russia on Thursday.
"They have been playing at a high level throughout the tournament. The midfield players swap positions often and go forward. That's why they are unpredictable. And they are more flexible than Portugal," Loew said.
Bierhoff, whose golden goal against the Czech Republic gave Germany the last of its three European titles in 1996, praised Spain midfielders Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.
"They control the ball very well and they provide decisive passes. We will have to play very tightly, double-team a lot, keep the marking close," Bierhoff said.
That's the game plan the Germans used against Portugal, when Loew also increased the number of midfielders, leaving Miroslav Klose as the lone striker, with backup on the wings from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski.
Loew used the same system in the semifinal against Turkey, but the Germans struggled and won 3-2 on a last-minute goal from Philipp Lahm.
Germany is likely to use the same formation in the final, with one probable change in personnel. Midfielder Torsten Frings probably will return to the starting lineup, while Simon Rolfes, who needed six stitches for a cut above the left eye, is expected to be on the bench.
Frings was recovering from a broken rib and was left out of the starting lineup in the semifinal. He was disappointed, but later told Loew he would have made the same decision if he had been the coach.
"Now, if I were coach Frings again, I'd put myself in the team," the rugged midfielder said. "I have almost no pain anymore, I have no problems and I think I'll play."
Frings also offered some advice on how to beat Spain.
"We shouldn't let them into the game. We have to be aggressive, we have to step up even as they are receiving the ball. I don't think they like it when you are aggressive against them. But they are very strong technically," Frings said.
Frings was looking forward to the big party the Germans are organizing Monday on the "fan mile" next to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. The team also showed up there before hundreds of thousands of fans after finishing third at the 2006 World Cup at home.
"In 2006, something was missing. This time we hope to bring something along, not only T-shirts with "Danke" written on them," Frings said.
Central defender Chistoph Metzelder said that unlike Germany, Spain has maintained a high standard of play throughout Euro 2008.
"Spain is the only team in the tournament that has played with consistency. They have very good ball control, great precision in passing," Metzelder said.
"But I think we'll be playing well and I know they'll have a lot of respect for us. They respect the way we play and the way we win. You need special qualities in a final and we have them."
With three World Cup titles and three European championships, Germany has the record to prove it.
Spain has lost four and won only one of seven competitive matches against Germany, a 1-0 victory at the 1984 European Championship, when Spain lost 2-0 to France in the final.