BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Chance after chance was offered, and the Germany players just kept on taking them with clinical efficiency.
In the end, not even they could scarcely believe the 7-1 World Cup semifinal win over Brazil.
Thomas Mueller opened the scoring in the 11th minute, and then Miroslav Klose's record-breaking 16th World Cup career goal triggered a four-goal frenzy in a seven-minute span as Germany took a 5-0 lead inside half an hour on Tuesday.
And this was against Brazil, the five-time World Cup champion, playing on home soil.
"It was of course not exactly expected. The space we had was bigger than against defensive teams," Mueller said. "We took advantage of it superbly, the opponent at some point gets broken. Now we have to pull all the stops one more time and lift the thing. We should keep our feet on the ground."
Germany will seek its fourth title on Sunday at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana against either Argentina or the Netherlands. Germany is in its first final since losing 2-0 to Brazil in 2002. It finished third in the last two tournaments.
Mueller recalled how Germany was criticized back home after eking out a 2-1 win over Algeria after a poor performance to start the knockout stage, and now "we'll be forever praised."
Germany coach Joachim Loew said the "shell-shocked" Brazil side was so stunned it didn't know how to respond.
"We realized that they were cracking up and took advantage of it, " Loew said. "It was very important to stay calm, cool and courageous in facing Brazilian passion. Brazil was shocked after the goals, they did not expect that. They did not know what to do."
Germany lost in the semifinals in 2006 at home to Italy and had sympathy for Brazil, with players of the two teams embracing each other after the match and the Germans trying to console the Brazilians.
Mueller said Germany had still not reached its goal, which is the title.
"We are simply a very good team," he said.
Toni Kroos, who scored two goals and set up Mueller's, said, "we are here to be World Cup winners."
"We played an incredible match. If someone had told me before the match that we'd win 7-1, I'd have said, 'good, we'll take it,'" Kroos said.
Kroos has been crucial in executing Germany's set pieces, especially from corners. Five of Germany's 17 goals at the tournament have come after corners, while one was a penalty.
The Germans have been practicing set pieces, part of the team's meticulous preparations that are paying off as it seeks to capture its first major title since the 1996 European Championship.