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.
Sure, we made too many mistakes yesterday. We have to improve now. The match against Sweden will already be our first final. June 18, 2018
"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."
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