Low laments 'unfair' criticism of Gotze
Mario Gotze is "one of the best players on the planet" and recent criticism of him is unfair, according to Germany coach Joachim Low.
The Bayern Munich playmaker has been singled out in recent weeks, with club legend Franz Beckenbauer claiming the 22-year-old had to "grow up" after the Bundesliga champions' 5-3 aggregate defeat to Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
A 3-2 victory at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday was not good enough to turn the tie around, with Gotze - scorer of the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final - only introduced as an 87th-minute substitute.
But Low told the German Football Association's official website: "Not long ago people were saying he was in the form of his life and now people are saying that he's struggling.
"That's too simplistic and also pretty unfair in my opinion.
"It's unfair to judge him solely on the goal he scored in the World Cup final.
"Mario is a fantastic player. This was clear from day one. He's no longer a hot prospect, but we do have to remember that he is only 22 years old.
"We've given him responsibility and he's relished that – he works hard and is always looking to improve.
"He's a good character to have around the place as well. Mario has a big future with us and for Bayern. He's one of the best players on the planet."
Low also commented on Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who has featured in all 12 of Barca's Champions League ties this term, recording clean sheets in half of them.
"It's clear that Marc has improved since going to Spain," the goalkeeper's national boss added
"He is calm and the players around him have plenty of faith in him. He performed incredibly and made some stunning saves, especially from Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski.
"He ensured that Barca progressed. I hope that he gets to start in the final."