Germany coach Joachim Low insists Mesut Ozil was not the only player to produce a below-par performance in Wednesday's crucial World Cup defeat to South Korea after a suggestion the Arsenal star did not do all he could.
The defending champions came unstuck late on in Kazan, losing 2-0 thanks to a pair of stoppage-time goals as they were caught out chasing a victory they desperately needed.
As such, Germany suffered their first opening round exit at the World Cup since 1938, while also becoming the third successive reigning champions to not make it past the group stage.
Ozil, a common target of critics, was accused of not being himself by a reporter in Low's post-match news conference and, while the coach agreed, he felt others disappointed too.
"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."