TIANJIN, China (AFP) - Buoyant German captain Birgit Prinz says the champions are peaking at the right time after demolishing arch-rivals Norway 3-0 to reach the women's World Cup final.
Germany had complained of some sticky performances before Wednesday's match but came through a shaky opening to become the first team to make the last two without conceding a goal.
"We're peaking at the right time," said Prinz.
"I think we were stronger and fitter than our last two opponents, especially in the second half when they were very tired. So it seems we're fit at the right moment."
Germany announced their intentions with an ominous 11-0 whitewash of Argentina in their first match before being held 0-0 by England and beating Japan 2-0 in the group stages.
But they stepped up a gear in the 3-0 quarter-final win over North Korea before dispatching fellow European heavyweights Norway in dismissive style here on Wednesday.
Player of the match Prinz bulldozed the Norwegian defence to create the opener, an own goal off the German's cross, and the second as she picked out Kerstin Stegeman.
Norway were at a loss to explain Germany's final strike as Martina Mueller pounced on a suicidal back pass from substitute defender Siri Nordby.
"I can't explain it," said dejected coach Bjarne Berntsen. "I don't know what happened."
Germany boss Silvia Neid, whose contract has been extended until the next World Cup, is delighted with the blemish-free run.
The Germans have also set a new record for most World Cup minutes without conceding, breaking China's 1999-2003 record.
"It was a great performance and I'm absolutely delighted we haven't let in a goal," said Neid.
"I think that's never happened in World Cup history before."
According to Prinz, it's all down to simple teamwork -- and luck.
"We're working well as a team and we're helping each other," she said.
"The secret of our success is our belief in ourselves. That's unbelievably important."
Prinz, the World Cup's all-time leading scorer with 13 goals, is a veteran of the 1995 final defeat to Norway and is now in her fourth World Cup.
But the 29-year-old said her past experience was not a factor in her impressive form here with four goals in the tournament so far.
"The pressure is similar in every World Cup," she said.
"It doesn't matter if you play one or two or three, you always have to play well."
Germany's watertight defence has been balanced by a flood of goals up front and the world's second-ranked team head into Sunday's final with 19 scored including Prinz's four and another four for Renate Lingor.
|Coach: S. Neid|
for M. Behringer 40'
for S. Smisek 65'
for L. Bresonik 81'
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