Mesut Ozil was pictured clashing with angry German fans after his country was knocked out of the World Cup at the group stage for the first time in their history.
Despite creating seven chances for his teammates – the most by any player in any game at this World Cup so far – many lazy fans and pundits once again turned on the playmaker.
“Ozil was peripheral and barely able to influence the game,” wrote Matt Barlow in the Daily Mail.
“Hummels, Boateng, Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil could not have come into this competition thinking it would be their last for their country. Circumstances may dictate it has to be, especially Ozil given his poor contribution,” wrote Jamie Carragher in the Telegraph.
“Mesut Özil was the best German but that decisive pass didn’t come. It had to come from someone but it didn’t, not from Özil either” wrote the German paper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, ignoring the hat-ful of clearcut and simple chances Ozil created for his teammates who couldn’t finish.
Against South Korea, Ozil also completed more dribbles (4) than any other player and picked up a player rating of 7.57 – the highest score of any German player and the 6th highest from both sides. Ozil also saw more of the ball than all his teammates apart from Toni Kroos, playing 95 passes.
After the final whistle, fans were furious at the team finishing bottom of the group with three points, below South Korea on goal difference and they let Ozil know about it.
Speaking after the game, manager Joachim Low came to the defence of Mesut Ozil while also blaming him for Germany’s problems.
“Today, because of a number of bans and injuries, we had to make changes,” Low 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.”
As I said on Twitter as the match drew to a close on Wednesday…
If Mesut Ozil is singled out after this then it's nothing other than malice.
— Daily Cannon (@DailyCannon) June 27, 2018
I stand by that.