Lahm frustrated, Low praises Spain
After defeating England 4-1 and Argentina 4-0 in the knockout stages, Germany struggled to make an impression on an accomplished Spain side, losing to a header from Carles Puyol in the second half in Durban.
Germany's excellent form in the build-up to the game had raised hopes that Joachim Low's young side could secure a place in the final against rivals Netherlands, but Lahm rued their inability to replicate performances against England and Argentina and take the game to Spain.
"It was very difficult tonight," Lahm said. "We knew Spain were a favourite to win the tournament. Spain is a very strong team.
"We didn't play courageously enough in the first half. We had a chance in the second but weren't able to use it. It's a huge disappointment. We wanted to do a lot and didn't succeed."
Low, who has won praise for the way he has forged a vibrant attacking side, paid tribute to Spain following their victory and warned Netherlands to expect a difficult 90 minutes in Sunday's final.
"Spain are a wonderful team," Low said. "They are the masters of the game. You can see it in every pass. They can hardly be beaten. They are extremely calm and convincing. Spain were just better than we were and they deserved to win.
"In 2008 they won the European Championships in a very convincing way and they have been unchanged over the past two or three years. They play in an automatic way and I am confident they will win the title.
"They have put on top performances in all matches they have played and they can beat everyone. Over the past two or three years they have been the most skilled team of all. They circulate the ball quickly and we were not able to play like previous matches. We were not able to get rid of our inhibitions.
"I have got to try to wake up the team tomorrow [Thursday]. We have another game to play. We will approach the match (for third place) seriously. We will come to terms with the disappointment and look forward. We have to look ahead and work hard and on Saturday provide a grand finale, if even a small finale."
On his own future he added: "I won't touch on this issue until after the tournament. Whoever the coach will be this team is here to stay over the next couple of years. The development has just started."