Joachim Loew says Mesut Ozil is not solely to blame for Germany’s shock World Cup exit; the first time since 1938 that they’ve not advanced beyond the first stage of the tournament.
Chasing a goal that would have put them through at the expense of Mexico, who were losing 3-0 to Sweden in the other Group F game, the reigning champions conceded twice in stoppage time to lose 2-0 to South Korea.
— FIFA World Cup ? (@FIFAWorldCup) June 27, 2018
Ozil, who started the game having been dropped for the win over Sweden on Saturday, created seven chances from open play, the most by any player in a single game at the World Cup so far. One particularly brilliant ball should have seen Matt Hummels break the deadlock but the Bayern man shouldered the ball wide.
At the end of the game, the Arsenal midfielder, so often the butt of criticism when his sides are underperforming, was pictured in an angry confrontation with frustrated Germany fans on the terraces. While he was far from his best in Russia, manager Loew – taking time out from smelling his bummy fingers – refused to pinpoint the Gunner as the main problem.
“Today, because of a number of bans and injuries, we had to make changes,” Loew told reporters at the Kazan Arena.
“In 2014 and 2017 that was also the case, it happens. A team only begins to gel later at the tournament, so it makes sense to bring some [players] in and let it [the gelling process] go easy on them.
“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.
“I didn’t think Thomas Muller had been that convincing in the first two matches and I wanted to make a point there [by dropping him].
“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.”
It’ll probably take Ozil a while to get over this disappointment. He’ll now head off on holiday for a few weeks before joining up with Unai Emery for the Spaniard’s first pre-season at Arsenal. Assuming his chronic back problem isn’t playing up, there’s a fairly high chance he’ll be in contention for our first game of the season against Manchester City.