Loew challenges Germany to take next step

Joachim Loew has challenged Germany to "take the next step" after a battling 1-0 win over France secured a FIFA World Cup semi-final berth.

Mats Hummels' 12th-minute header was enough for Germany to defeat France at the Maracana on Friday in a last-eight tie that produced few goalscoring opportunities.

It means Germany have reached at least the semi-finals in four-straight World Cups, but head coach Loew has urged his team to turn that excellent record into a first triumph at the marquee tournament since West Germany lifted the trophy at Italia '90.

"In the last four World Cups we've reached the semi-finals," Loew said. "That is a good achievement. We now need to take the next step."

Loew believes Germany were rewarded for a fine defensive display, typified by centre-back pairing Hummels and Jerome Boateng.

"I think both teams played well defensively today," he added. "There weren't many goalscoring opportunities, which was part of our plan.

"We didn't want to give France chances with the quality of strikers they possess. We closed them down well and that was the key.

"They did the same against us, because Yohan Cabaye and Paul Pogba are a great screen for the defence and we knew that we had to go wide in order to create chances, which is why I switched Philipp Lahm to the full-back position.

"France gave everything to try to force the equaliser, but Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng were excellent and Manuel Neuer did well when called upon."