Arsenal superstar Mesut Ozil produced a solid performance against Portugal, as Germany went to the top of Group G with a thumping 4-0 victory.
The 25-year-old, who joined Arsenal from Real Madrid last summer for a club-record fee, came under lot of criticism prior to the World Cup. Former German midfielder Michael Ballack felt his compatriot was not in the best of shape mentally ahead of this year’s World Cup finals in Brazil.
“It’s difficult to say where his head is going to be at the World Cup,” said Ballack.
“I saw him play for the national team at the weekend and I was not surprised, not scared, but a little bit concerned, by his performances.
“He has done well for Germany and he played well during the qualifying campaign but in the last few months – since his move to Arsenal – he has not been the same player, in terms of his confidence, that we used to see in the national team.”
However, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho feels otherwise and has hailed the German superstar as a “special player.”
Mourinho, who is an exclusive analyst for Yahoo’s worldwide football coverage, said that the former Real Madrid star is getting a lot of stick from everywhere, with people projecting wrong perception on him.
“I think it’s hard to criticize him, because Özil is Özil. If you were expecting Özil to be super aggressive and to be running miles and miles from side to side and to show great enthusiasm and aggressiveness, this is not Mesut. If you are waiting for somebody where every time he touches the ball, the ball smiles.
“Every time he makes a pass, the ball goes with the right direction, the right speed, the right intensity, this is Özil. At the same time, I learned with him because we were together for quite a long time, that he’s a very sensitive boy.
He needs confidence. He needs trust. He needs to feel that people is with him. When he’s on the pitch, every time he touches the ball, the ball goes beautiful. And he’ll always finds the right man on the right place. So, sometimes, you don’t see him, sometimes he doesn’t go to screen many, many times. But when he goes he is a special player.”
Mourinho also commented on Spain’s shock exit from the World Cup, after they had suffered back-to-back defeats against Holland and Chile.
“I think it’s fair to say that there is a big responsibility in Holland and in Chile. Big responsibility. I think they did what, I think, in modern football you have to do. You have to be strategic. Holland and Chile they were very good by the strategic point of view, and Spain couldn’t cope with it in my opinion.
In this moment people learn how to play against the best teams. And when the best teams play, always believing that their philosophy is the one, the other people learn. And Spain was so amazing in the last 4 or 6 years, they were so amazing in the way they were playing football, that people learn, people look, people study.”