It may have taken over a month, but finally one of Özil’s Germany teammates has spoken out in his defence, and insisted the 29-year-old isn’t to blame for their poor tournament.
In the past month, we’ve heard plenty of German players either dodging the issue of Özil’s clash with the DFB by staying silent, or pretending it has nothing to do with them. It was particularly disappointing to see Mesut’s close friend Leroy Sane skirting around questions on the subject.
To an extent, you can understand why though. No one wants to stand in support of the guy being torn apart by the media on a daily basis, just to end up on the end of the same sort of criticism themselves. However, it would’ve been nice to see someone with the courage to defend their teammate.
At last, the youngest member of the squad, Julian Brandt, has spoken out in Özil’s defence.
“During the tournament, it did not limit us,” he said in German outlet Bild. “That did not hold us back or distract us. That was not the reason we were kicked out.
“In my opinion, Mesut is by no means the reason why we went out. We’ve all made enough mistakes – and that’s what I count. I could have scored twice in the goal instead of the post, so maybe things would have been different.
“From a purely athletic point of view, Mesut probably made some mistakes or did not get his best performance. But we all did not have that. Just blaming him is just wrong.”
Plenty of players could take their share of the blame over the three games. Mats Hummels dived in unnecessarily against Mexico for their goal, then missed a sitter in the final match.
Thomas Muller and Timo Werner never seemed to turn up at the tournament, and Joshua Kimmich seemed to forget defending was part of his job as a full-back.
Almost every player did something wrong, but Germany just aren’t used to a squad full of under-performing stars, so they had to find a scapegoat. Unfortunately for Özil, his photo with Erdogan made him a prime candidate.
Hopefully soon we can all move on and focus on the new season.