Germany coach Joachim Low admitted Arsenal star Mesut Ozil didn’t perform “normally” at the World Cup.
The 2014 champions crashed out of Russia 2018 at the group stages yesterday following a shock 2-0 defeat to South Korea. In doing so, they became the third consecutive world champions to be eliminated before the knockout stages.
Ozil was one of many players who under-performed at the tournament, and was dropped for their second group game against Sweden. However, Low didn’t single him out for specific criticism.
“It wasn’t only Ozil, a number of other players didn’t perform as they normally would.
“I take responsibility for that and stand up for that, but I thought it was a good team.”
While Ozil returned to the lineup for the clash with South Korea, Bayern Munich star Thomas Muller was axed.
“I didn’t think Thomas Muller had been that convincing in the first two matches and I wanted to make a point there.
“Towards the finish when we realised we needed a goal we took a defender out late on and that meant we became less structured, but we couldn’t wait, we had to risk.
“We needed to throw things forward and it opened things up in defence.”
Germany finished bottom of Group F on goal difference, scoring just two goals from three matches. Sweden and Mexico qualified ahead of them.
After their opening defeat to Mexico, Ozil was heavily criticised by Germany legend Lothar Matthaus, who lifted the World Cup as captain in 1990.
Matthaus said: “What displeases me is that his body language is negative. He is in the game without joy. I often have the feeling that on the pitch Ozil doesn’t feel comfortable in the DFB jersey, is not free, almost as if he does not want to play.
“There is no heart, no joy, no passion. I think he will retire from the national team after the World Cup.”