Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm believes his team is approaching the level of Barcelona as it strives to emulate the Champions League winners' incisive passing game and dominance of possession.
Bayern's form has improved markedly this season, leading the Bundesliga by five points and close to advancing to the knockout stage of the Champions League.
''We talk often about Barcelona, how strong technically they are and how they recover the ball in the back. We are getting there,'' Lahm said Thursday. ''We are not satisfied with second place anymore. You can speak of a top generation only if you win titles.''
Lahm said Germany was also closing the gap to World Cup and European champion Spain.
Germany, without a title since the 1996 European Championship, lost the Euro 2008 final to Spain and was also beaten by the Spaniards in last year's World Cup semifinals.
''We've developed, the gap to Spain has diminished,'' Lahm said.
Lahm turns 28 on Friday and will not be playing for Germany in the friendly in Ukraine on that day. Germany coach Joachim Loew said he is resting Lahm from the game in Kiev and from Tuesday's friendly against the Netherlands in Hamburg.