By Andrew Cawthorne
BELO HORIZONTE Brazil (Reuters) - Germany coach Joachim Loew said he understood the shock and pain that Brazil were feeling on Tuesday after their 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat on home soil, recalling how the Germans felt in 2006 when they lost to Italy at the same stage.
“We were shocked too and experienced the same thing in 2006,” Loew told German TV. “They were shocked and didn’t expect to fall behind. And after that it was an easy match for us.”
Loew, who was Juergen Klinsmann’s assistant coach in 2006 when they were beaten by Italy 2-0 in extra time, said he thought the enormous pressure on the hosts could end up being a burden.
“We had great hopes in 2006 too and you can feel the pressure that the hosts have in a match like this,” Loew said.
“All 200 million people here want you to get to the final. That can cause your players to tighten up. I feel sorry for him (Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari). I think I know how he feels.”
Loew was pleased that his team saved their best effort in the World Cup for the Brazil match, a rout that wiped away memories of the tense 2-1 last-16 win over Algeria which triggered widespread criticism back home.
“Five goals in 18 minutes – it’s clear that they were shocked and didn’t know what to do,” he said.
“Everyone did their job today with a lot of concentration. But this has to continue. We need to stay humble. We don’t want to over-rate this. We have to stay concentrated until Sunday.”
Loew said he had no preference on playing Argentina or the Netherlands in the final.
“We’re obviously going to celebrate a bit tonight but we have to start focusing right away tomorrow on the next match," he said.
"But I’m not worried about that. The players all have their feet firmly on the ground and they won’t let this (win) go to their heads."
Toni Kroos, who scored two goals, was named the man of the match and the midfielder's strongest performance in the World Cup epitomized Germany's improved game.
"We played a great match," he said. "We over-ran them a bit at the start and noticed they were feeling a bit uncertain.
"We started getting a goal every five minutes and put the match away quickly. It was an unbelievable match. We beat Brazil in their own country. That's impressive by itself. But we’re not at our goal yet. We want to win on Sunday."
Captain Philipp Lahm said his team were just pleased to make it through the semi-final after getting knocked out at that stage in 2006 and 2010.
"We're full of joy that we made it through to the final," he said. "We made it to the semi-finals the last two times and our big goal was to get to the final. We're already looking forward to the final."
Lahm acknowledged Germany had not played as well in earlier matches at the World Cup.
"It's a long tournament with a lot of matches. Not all seven matches could be at the top level. We had to improve throughout the tournament and that's the goal - to win the World Cup."
Germany defender Mats Hummels said the celebrations in the dressing-room after the match were relatively subdued because it had been decided before halftime.
"We were astonished by what happened on the pitch," said Hummels. "We should just savor this moment and enjoy it. It's something special what we've accomplished. We're going to do everything to fulfil the big dream we still have."
(Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum, editing by Ed Osmond)