Lay off Mesut Ozil: Joachim Low picks him for a reason

first_img talkSPORT looks at Mesut Ozil’s World Cup in detail Mesut Ozil isn’t the most popular German player at the moment. After a difficult second half to the season at Arsenal, the playmaker has also learned to live with criticism from supporters of the national team, with calls for him to be dropped in the build-up to and throughout the World Cup. Yet Joachim Low keeps picking him, and given Germany have just booked their first place in a World Cup final since 2002, the coach must be doing something right. talkSPORT takes a look at the numbers that support Low’s decision, and suggest people should lay off the Arsenal playmaker…Ozil hasn’t been one of the standout players at the World Cup – pretending otherwise would make no sense – but with the level of stick he’s taking you would think he hadn’t bothered to turn up at all. Take this extract from the website of German television station N-TV:“There’s no getting away from Mesut Ozil these days. German cities are plastered with his face. Ozil in victory pose. Ozil wrapped in a German flag. Ozil after scoring a goal. The ‘Wizard of Oz’. Yet when the whistle blows, the 25-year-old superstar only has one trick: He makes himself invisible.”Perhaps Ozil is elusive or difficult to keep tabs on, but his impact on the German team has been anything but invisible. The Arsenal man has created more chances (15) at the World Cup so far than some of his much more talked about contemporaries. Wesley Sneijder has only managed nine, for example. Angel di Maria, 11. James Rodriguez created 12, and even Neymar trails Ozil with 13. That’s not a bad return from the Gunners man at all.In fact, only Thomas Muller has created as many chances for Germany at this World Cup so far, with both he and Ozil the two leading creators, and the much-lauded Toni Kroos trailing with 13. Bastian Schweinsteiger, who has received little to no criticism for his displays, has only managed to create five.Along with passing forward and looking for openings, Ozil is also capable of holding onto the ball and helping to slow a game down, something vital for any team looking to control matches and win a World Cup. At the tournament so far he has completed more passes – 88% of 296 attempted – than other esteemed playmakers like Oscar (77% of 210), Sneijder (79% of 239), Di Maria (77% of 242) and James Rodriguez (77% of 196). In terms of his German compatriots he was more accurate than Thomas Muller (74% of 201 passes) and Sami Khedira (85% of 227), meanwhile.Ozil has also proven useful in his deliveries into the box, something particularly useful for Germany considering they have strikers capable of thriving on good crossing like Muller and Miroslav Klose. At the 2014 World Cup, he has completed 44% of his attempted crosses into the box, more than Andre Schurrle (who has failed to complete a single cross), Di Maria (30%), James Rodriguez (36%), and Neymar (37%). Again, the Arsenal man holds up favourably in comparison to other players that have received praise for their individual showings, yet he is judged to have under-performed.The numbers above show that Ozil has contributed a large amount to his nation’s success at the 2014 World Cup, even if that has passed unnoticed. That’s summed up well by the fact that most will recall his failure to score in Germany’s 7-1 win over Brazil last night rather than his tidiness in possession, good movement and proactive passing. Perhaps Ozil will continue to take stick, but Joachim Low will also continue to pick him, and with good reason.Is Mesut Ozil being judged harshly these days? Let us know below… 1last_img

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