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'Hands off Ozil!' - Hamann leaps to Germany star's defence

09:36 IST 21/06/2018
Mesut Ozil Germany Mexico World Cup 2018 170618
The midfielder was singled out after the 1-0 defeat to Mexico, but a former player insists the Arsenal man remains one of Die Mannschaft's best

Mesut Ozil is arguably Germany's most important player at the World Cup, according to Dietmar Hamann, who has urged critics of the midfielder to lay off him.

The Arsenal star was singled out for criticism after the reigning world champions opened the 2018 tournament with a 1-0 defeat to Mexico.

Former Germany stars Stefan Effenberg and Lothar Matthaus were among those who piled in on the 29-year-old, with the latter suggesting he could be in the final days of his international career.

But Hamann feels Germans should lay off Ozil and stop making him the scapegoat. 

"Ozil is a brilliant player with great merits for German football. So steer clear of Ozil," Hamann said. 

"If we want to play a role at the World Cup, he is one of the most important, if not the most important players in the team.

"The hunt for Ozil was not so bad for some players, they could just hide behind him. If it works, everyone is happy. If it does not work, Ozil is guilty. And if he did nothing, no one else did anything.

"There is too much talk about tactics and system, the Mexicans were just more aggressive, more powerful and the Germans were surprised by their class. We played naively, everyone wanted to play with the ball, no one without a ball."

Germany's campaign continues on Saturday when they face Sweden, who beat South Korea 1-0.