Mesut Ozil and Germany’s odds at the World Cup 2014
Germany were one of the pre-tournament favourites and have progressed to the quarter-finals without defeat. Everything should be rosy in Joachim Loew’s camp. Somehow though, things aren’t quite right. German efficiency has got them this far, but surely they will need something special to actually win the World Cup.
In truth, apart from an opening victory against ten-man Portugal, Germany’s performances have been somewhat underwhelming. This is especially surprising given the wealth of attacking talent on offer – Thomas Mueller has probably been the pick of the bunch so far, which also includes Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze, Andre Schurrle and of course Arsenal’s very own Mesut Ozil. However, like Germany in general, Ozil has looked somewhat uninspired, certainly until his goal against Algeria helped secure a quarter-final place. Of course, Loew has another two Gunners at his disposal too, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski. Both have performed reasonably, yet Ozil has looked somewhat out of sorts, especially in comparison to his last World Cup foray.
So, what is going wrong for Germany and Ozil? Ozil’s tepid displays will perhaps be of little surprise to Arsenal fans. Throughout last season, he looked different class at times. However, the occasions on which he showed his £42.5million talent were not frequent enough. Too many times last season and now during the World Cup, the game has just passed Ozil by. One major factor in this is the insistence of both Loew and indeed Arsene Wenger to often deploy him out wide. Ozil himself admits that he is more comfortable in the centre. However, both Arsenal and Germany have a wealth of midfield talent to choose from and conventional thinking would dictate that a player of Ozil’s ability should be able to operate anywhere across the midfield. Loew is finding out that this may just not be the case. However, Toni Kroos has made the role in front of Bastian Schweinsteiger his own and it would take a brave coach to alter the arrangement.
So, how can Loew get the most out of Ozil and his side? With a very tough quarter-final against France looming, there is plenty of food for thought. In truth, France will pose a very different proposition to the likes of Algeria and Ghana, who have caused the Germans plenty of headaches thanks to their free-flowing counter-attacking game. Expect France to be rather more cautious. The patient build-up of play may well suit Germany and Ozil better.
However, if Loew really wants to boost his team’s World Cup odds, then he will need to think about playing with a conventional striker. Until now, Germany’s only genuine front man, Miroslav Klose has been used fleetingly. Deploying Klose with more regularity or perhaps even Podolski as a focal point of the German attack would help clarify the role played by Ozil and the likes of Mueller and Schurlle or Goetze when called upon. All are used to playing around a single striker at club level and you can’t help thinking that they would benefit from a similar system in Brazil. Klose and Podolski are hardly Olivier Giroud, who may line up against then for France. However, a more familiar system may just be what Ozil and indeed Germany have been looking for.
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