- Germany must beat Sweden to survive
- Mesut Özil is the main target of critics
- Brandt, Reus, and Gomez could start in Sochi
The knives are out in Germany, and there is a stench of decay about Joachim Löw’s highly consistent tenure as Bundestrainer.
Mesut Özil, perhaps the symbol of Löw’s multiethnic Germany, is now the main target of critics after yet another anaemic performance against Mexico.
His ill-advised meeting with Turkish president Erdogan prior to the tournament polarised opinion. His subsequent on-field exploits did nothing but bolster his critics’ stance.
In truth, Özil was a ghostly presence four years ago in Brazil. His failure to stick an eighth past demoralised and traumatised Brazil led to a Brazilian counter and their consolation. It summed up Özil’s tournament. While his team-mates gleefully filled their boots, Özil was missing in action, a spectral luxury.
The problem now is Germany can no longer afford passengers. Thomas Müller, Sami Khedira, and Jerome Boateng are all struggling. All and any could be dropped. This makes Özil vulnerable.
Marco Reus and Julian Brandt could come into the team for the critical match with Sweden. Mario Gomez may add heft against physical defenders. Germany need a performance. Would you rely on Özil?