Germany go for the jugular
World Cup 2010: Cape Town
When German tabloid Bild ran the front-page headline "We are going to blow you away" after Joachim Loew's side had thrashed an aging Australia in their first game at this World Cup, I cannot have been the only person thinking that they might come to regret making such bold statements so early in the competition.
It was not just the newspapers that were getting carried away either. An English friend of mine who lives in Berlin told me how, after the Socceroos had been put to the sword, the whole country seemed to be celebrating already and apparently the general feeling was that this was their year.
That struck me as somewhat strange behaviour for Germans, who are usually far more reserved - especially as their side were not considered one of the pre-tournament favourites.
Then came defeat against Serbia, and the buzz about Germany being serious World Cup contenders faded for a while, especially as the South American super-powers came to the fore. But not anymore.
Three weeks on, following crushing wins by Loew's swashbuckling young team over England and Argentina on their way to a semi-final against European champions Spain, it appears Bild, Berlin, and the rest of the German nation might just have been right.
Nobody can ignore Germany's credentials to regain the trophy they last lifted at Italia '90, or the thrilling fashion in which they have powered into the last four.
I was lucky enough to be at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday afternoon to witness them end Diego Maradona's World Cup dream and it is their devastatingly direct style that impressed me the most and sets them apart from most of the other teams who were in South Africa, and all of those left in the competition.
Bastian Schweinsteiger tore holes in the Argentina defence
While their next opponents, who edged them out in the final of Euro 2008 two years ago, prefer playing pretty passing patterns, Germany simply go for the jugular - and to great effect.
Although Paul the psychic squid has famously 'predicted' all their results in South Africa so far, few people or cephalopods (outside of Germany at least) would probably have foreseen them putting four goals past not just Australia but England and Argentina too.
With 13 goals in five games they are the top scorers in the tournament, with the next highest (Argentina) on 10. Of the three other teams who can win it, the Netherlands have scored nine goals so far, Uruguay seven and Spain six.
Why do they find the net so often? Well, their tactics for a start - and English football should take it as a compliment that they have modelled their high-tempo style on Premier League football. Perhaps Fabio Capello should follow suit?
But maybe the fact their approach is so unusual at international level is the reason it is so effective.
Argentina certainly couldn't cope with the velocity or ferocity of Germany's forward play in the first half-hour or the last 20 minutes of their quarter-final, which is why they ended up on the wrong end of their worst World Cup defeat since losing 6-1 to Czechoslovakia in 1958.
Germany proved they could defend too, of course, keeping out an Argentina side who were themselves considered a big attacking threat, in particular Lionel Messi who was completely overshadowed in midfield by Bastian Schweinsteiger.
"We were incredibly convincing in our defensive display to neutralise Messi," Loew said in his press conference after the match.
"What the team showed in terms of determination to win was the sort you would expect from champions, also the ambition they showed, the speed and the attacking tempo we showed in the second half - it was absolute class."
Loew, who celebrated some of Germany's goals as though he had scored them himself, is rightly proud of the way his team have performed so far in South Africa, and crucially his players seem to believe in their coach too. They embrace the system they are asked to play - as well as being perfectly suited to it.
It means Loew gets the most out of them. While the likes of Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski have had poor - or even disastrous - seasons for their clubs, they have slotted into Loew's 4-2-3-1 formation and found their form.
Klose, whose two-goal salvo drew him level with legendary compatriot Gerd Muller on 14 goals as the second-highest scorers in World Cup finals history (one behind Ronaldo), barely played or scored at all last season.
But when I spoke to Jurgen Klinsmann - Loew's predecessor as German coach, and the man who put the foundations that the current team are building on in place during his time in charge from 2004 to 2006 - last week, he told me that the Bayern Munich striker was in "World Cup shape".
I took that to mean he is raising his game for a major tournament once again - but I might have been wrong. After all, Klose did celebrate his second strike with a somersault - not bad for a 32-year-old.
Klose encounter: Striker celebrates with a somersault
He is not the only German player producing his best form on the biggest stage, however.
Schweinsteiger, who set up two of their goals and played a huge part in a third, ran the game against Argentina as well as helping to keep Messi quiet.
"Bastian had a fantastic game." Loew said. "The work he put in, the distance he covered and how he organised the team as well as starting every attack. There are not many midfielders who are playing at his level."
Arguably two of the few that are, are among Schweinsteiger's team-mates. Mezut Oezil, 21, has lived up to the hype that saw him proclaimed one of the best young players in Europe and 20-year-old Thomas Mueller has emerged as one of the brightest new talents on the planet with his incisive play over the last few weeks.
Sadly, Mueller will be suspended for Wednesday's semi-final after picking up a booking in the first half against Argentina but, whether it is the final or a third-placed play-off we will surely see more of him before the end of this tournament.
Suffice to say, the celebrations have been in full flow back in Germany since the final whistle went - they certainly have for the thousands of expats who live in and around Cape Town.
German fans celebrate their team's triumph in Berlin
Loew and his side say they have been lifted by the reaction of their fans - Mueller said afterwards that 'Germany is quaking right now and so are we'.
But I can't help but feeling that, in a slightly different way, Spain will be too. And, given the form their side is in, I certainly would not blame any German now if they think that this will be their year.