Germany’s coaching staff fended off criticism of Mesut Ozil on Sunday and said they are more than satisfied with the way he has adapted to his new role in the team.
The 25-year-old previously played at the heart of Germany’s high-scoring 4-2-3-1 system, catching the eye with some brilliant goals and delightful passing.
However, after bitter semifinal defeats at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, coach Joachim Loew has adopted a more defensive outlook and moved Ozil wide in a 4-3-3 line-up.
Loew’s assistant coach Hansi Flick rejected suggestions Ozil had been a flop at the World Cup when asked about his role at a news conference on Sunday.
“We see that differently than you do,” he told reporters.
“Mesut is playing a different position now than he used to and he’s got a different assignment now. He’s got very strong skills with the ball and on top of that he’s improved during the course of the tournament.”
No longer directing play from the classic number 10 playmaker role, Ozil is being asked to provide the creativity from the flanks and is covering much more ground than he did under the old system.
“We’re very satisfied with Mesut,” Flick said. “He brings a lot of confidence with the ball into our game and is always ready for a pass.”
Ozil’s creativity has sometimes been stifled during some of the more physical matches in Brazil but he showed he can flourish when the pressure is on by scoring in Germany’s 2-1 extra-time win over Algeria and helping keep his team on track with solid ball control and precise passing.
Flick also noted that Ozil had needed some time to get back to full speed after picking up an injury at club side Arsenal.
“You’ve got to remember that he was injured at Arsenal and he wasn’t able to get quite back to the level that he has played at,” he said. “But we’re satisfied and if the coaches are satisfied, that’s the important thing.”