As if nine wins from nine previous matches in Group A had not already done so, coach Joachim Löw felt Germany "sent out a message" by defeating Belgium 3-1 to complete a perfect passage through to UEFA EURO 2012.
Germany were under pressure in the early stages in Dusseldorf as the Red Devils sought the victory they needed to pip Turkey to a play-off spot, yet turned the match in three minutes around the half-hour as Mesut Özil finished superbly from outside the area and André Schürrle completed a lightning counterattack. Mario Gomez removed any doubt with the third in the 48th minute, while Marouane Fellaini's 86th-minute header came too late for Belgium.
"It was important for us to go through with this win – we sent out a message to our rivals," said Löw. "Also, we did not want others to say that we influenced the competition by performing badly. There's still a long way to go until the finals and especially the final, but we are very well prepared."
Opposite number Georges Leekens added: "The German team is very strong but in the first 20 minutes you could see that we were capable of playing attacking football. We wanted three points but were not there for the dead-ball situations. You could tell that we were missing a couple of injured players but I am proud of the performance of our young team."
Özil, who has Turkish ancestry, also spoke of his pride having vowed beforehand to put his all into helping Turkey go through. "I'm very proud that I was able to keep my promise as I have many friends playing for Turkey. Now it has to be our goal to bring the title to Germany; the time has come for Germany to become European champions. If we continue like this, we can win the title."
Germany have not won a competition since EURO '96, but did finish runners-up to Spain at UEFA EURO 2008 before claiming third place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. If anything, they boast deeper reserves of talent now with the Belgium win achieved without the likes of Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski or Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen attacker Schürrle is one of the tyros making his mark, last night's goal his third in four internationals. "The coach has a wealth of options," he said. "The competition within the team propels you forward, because you have to give your best in every match and training session. We have so much quality in this team, and can score goals out of the blue and at any time." Message received, loud and clear.
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