Mario Gotze has addressed criticism of his Euro 2016 performances amid suggestions that the Germany forward's bark is worse than his bite.
Following a season during which he once again struggled to command a regular starting spot at Bayern Munich, Gotze has been named in the 'false nine' role during the world champions’ opening Group C matches, with limited success.
He did not get on the scoresheet during the 2-0 win over Ukraine and made way for Andre Schurrle shortly after the hour during Thursday’s drab 0-0 draw against Poland at the Stade de France, with boss Joachim Low belatedly fielding a conventional striker in the form of Mario Gomez during the closing stages.
Speaking at a news conference at Germany's Evian base on Sunday, two days before their final group match versus Northern Ireland, Gotze sought relief with an unusual metaphor.
"Sometimes you're the dog, sometimes you are the tree," said the man who scored the winner in the 2014 World Cup final.
"With criticism, everyone can handle it. We look forward to the next game, we have a very good starting point.
"We will find solutions that are basically very optimistic that we will win this game."
Explaining his virtues as the most advanced forward, Gotze added: "I'm not the tallest but, also, against Poland I had a headed chance. Most central defenders are taller than me.
"But if I press right, perhaps that is important to score against an opponent who sits deeply and makes it tight, trying to destroy our game."
Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff defended Gotze when he addressed the assembled media.
"I find the criticism should not bother Mario Gotze too much," he said. "With him, it is about how he gives us balance.
"The fact that he brings so much effort and creates space is not considered. I love our attack and do not worry so much."
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.