Former Germany midfielder Dietmar Hamann has leapt to the defence of Mesut Ozil in the wake of the defending world champions' defeat to Mexico.
Germany began their World Cup defence with a 1-0 defeat against Mexico on Sunday and defeat against Sweden on Saturday could see Joachim Low's side become the third successive defending champions to be knocked-out in the group stages.
Ozil, already under the spotlight following a controversial meeting with Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was criticised for the effort he showed in the defeat and there have been growing calls for him to be dropped.
However, Hamann believes that Ozil is a crucial player to Low's side and believes that the treatment received by the playmaker has been unfair.
"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."
Germany's shock defeat to Mexico has led to plenty of questions about the performance of the world champions but Hamann believes the reasons for the defeat were much simpler.
"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," he added.
"We played naively, everyone wanted to play with the ball, no one without the ball."
|Steelers´ Roethlisberger texted Bell but ´didn’t hear back´|
|Reus and Kroos to sit out Germany´s clash with Russia|
|Van Dijk happy to recommend De Ligt if Liverpool ask|
|Sauber announce launch of junior programme|
|No ´breathtaking tennis´ in Djokovic´s win against Zverev|
|Curran: England spinners will be key in Kandy|
|Djokovic charges past Zverev to move closer to ATP Finals progression|
|Messi is a football alien - Malcom|
|Sky´s the limit for Sancho, says Dortmund team-mate Pulisic|
|Radwanska retires from tennis at 29|
|Maybe one day - Pulisic open to Premier League move|
|Suso ´proud´ of Real Madrid speculation but happy at AC Milan|
|Betis president convinced Lo Celso will stay|
|Injured Holder out of Bangladesh tour|
|Germany face relegation, final spots up for grabs - Nations League state of play|
|James Rodriguez out for several weeks with knee injury|
|Curran´s brilliant fifty rescues England´s innings|
|Lenglet: No problem with Dembele at Barca|
|Townsend rings the changes for Springboks clash|
|Claudio Ranieri´s managerial career in Opta numbers|
|Mahmudullah´s first century in eight years boosts Bangladesh|
|Fellaini gets the chop ahead of 31st birthday|
|Maradona: Solari will not last at Real Madrid|
|Molinari: Race to Dubai success would not surpass Ryder Cup glory with Fleetwood|
|Dortmund star Sancho was a Bayern target, confirms Salihamidzic|
|Gerrard enjoying ´buzz´ of management|
|Hamilton questions approach to Formula One expansion|
|Ranieri honoured to lead ´exceptional´ Fulham squad|
|Solari saw Isco out of shape - Ceballos|
|Ranieri replaces Jokanovic at Fulham|
|Durant keeps details of Green spat ´in-house´ but envisages resolution|
|Rooney: Kane and Sterling are England superstars|
|Messi will make Argentina return, says Maradona|
|Warriors drop Hawks as Green serves suspension|
|In-form Healy sends Australia into semis|
|Former NBA star McGrady says Carmelo Anthony should retire|
|Celtics´ Smart: We have to look at ourselves in the mirror|
|Federer plays down preferential treatment talk|
|Mourinho is better than Guardiola – Maradona|
|Mbappe plays down Pele comparisons|
|Don´t worry bro – Mendy responds to Trump|
|Melvin, Snitker win manager of the year awards|
|Warriors´ Green suspended for Hawks clash|
|Asensio: It´s not for me to lead Madrid|
|Rooney ready to enjoy England farewell after pressure of ´Golden Generation´|
|Ludwigsburg stun high-flying Murcia in BCL|
|Rams v Chiefs moved to LA due to Mexico City field conditions|
|Skriniar discussing new Inter contract, confirms agent|
|Former Barcelona boss Martino named MLS Coach of the Year|
|Bell fails to report to Steelers, will sit out rest of season|
|Federer back on track after dismal Thiem display|
|Udinese appoint Nicola after sacking Velazquez|
|Monaco deny they broke rules regarding youth recruitment|
|Del Bosque, Zidane, Lopetegui - The former Castilla coaches Solari follows into Real Madrid hot seat|
|Ozil rejected ´crazy offers´ from Asia, reveals agent|
|Real Madrid appoint Solari on permanent basis|
|LeVert avoids need for surgery, should return this season|
|Neuer confident despite concerns over Bayern Munich form|
|All I ever wanted to do is win, says Sixers signing Butler|
|Pogba: Coming home to United was the best feeling ever|
|Watson among four signing new Bath deals|
|Susanna Dinnage to replace Scudamore as Premier League chief executive|
|Murray commits to Brighton until 2020|
|Rooney rejected chance of pre-World Cup farewell|
|Impressive Anderson thrashes Nishikori|
|Ozil´s Germany absence a ´pity´, says Sane|
|Rooney: I´ll finish my career in the US|
|McIlroy unsure of 2019 European Tour membership|
|Australian Open dismisses concerns of Federer scheduling bias|
|Hue Jackson joins Bengals staff as ´special assistant´|