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Germany coach Low puts pressure on European champions Spain

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Germany coach Joachim Low claims Spain are favorites to win the World Cup
  • The two teams meet in Wednesday's semifinal in a rematch of the Euro 2008 final
  • Germans are the top scorers in this year's tournament, netting 13 goals in five games
  • Spain defender Carles Puyol and midfielder Cesc Fabregas passed fit to play

(CNN) -- Germany coach Joachim Low has tried to lift the burden of expectation off his young team by claiming that Wednesday's semifinal opponents Spain are favorites to win the World Cup.

The Germans, who came into the tournament missing several key injured players, have been tipped to win a fourth title in South Africa after demolishing Argentina 4-0 in the quarterfinals and successfully shackling the attacking talents of Lionel Messi.

But Low, whose team were beaten by the Spaniards in the final of Euro 2008, believes that the last-four clash in Durban will be a more difficult proposition.

"Spain remain the natural World Cup favorites. They not only have one Messi, but they have several Messis," he told reporters.

Spain remain the natural World Cup favorites. They not only have one Messi, but they have several Messis
--Joachim Low
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  • FIFA World Cup
  • South Africa
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Joachim Low

"They have a whole range of players that can win a game, so we will have to be very watchful against them. They are a team that make very few mistakes. We have to force them into making mistakes."

The Germans are the top scorers in this year's tournament, having racked up 13 goals in five games after putting four past Australia, England and Argentina.

Defeat in the second group game against Serbia has been the only lapse, as Bastian Schweinsteiger has reveled in his new central midfield role in the absence of injured captain Michael Ballack, while four-goal Thomas Muller and playmaker Mezut Ozil have also been inspirational.

Muller will miss the Spain game due to suspension but Low has another potent goal threat in striker Miroslav Klose, who needs one more to join Brazil legend Ronaldo on the all-time record of 15.

"In 2008, there is no doubt that Spain were the best team at the tournament. They have shown great consistency and always played at the highest possible level. So they have been impressive," Low said.

"But now the situation is different. We too have a good team and we have every reason to believe that we can succeed."

Spain reached the World Cup semifinals for the first time with a 1-0 victory over Paraguay thanks to a late winner from striker David Villa, the tournament's top scorer on five goals.

Defender Gerard Pique has backed his team to take the next step up.

"I think when you are at the semifinal stage, there are no favorites," he told reporters.

"We never have any doubts about ourselves. We always play the same way, the results are good and we have to be confident with our play.

"Germany and Spain both have new players in the team and it will be a different game to two years ago. We will always keep going. That is the sort of team we are."

Pique's defensive partner Carles Puyol has been cleared to play after suffering blurred vision when he was hit in the face by the ball against Paraguay, while midfielder Cesc Fabregas will also be available despite falling heavily on his shoulder.

Coach Vicente del Bosque has been under pressure from Spanish media to drop striker Fernando Torres, who has failed to impress after having a pre-tournament knee operation.

Torres, who scored the winner in the final of Euro 2008, has been substituted in each of the past four matches after starting the shock defeat by Switzerland on the bench.

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