Diego Maradona claims the Germany playmaker must step up for Joachim Low’s side due to the fitness concerns over team-mate Bastian Schweinsteiger
Diego Maradona believes Germany’s hopes for success in their World Cup opener against Portugal could depend largely on the performance of Mesut Ozil.
The Arsenal midfielder suffered a dip in form during the latter stages of the 2013-14 season and has seen his place in Joachim Low’s star-studded line-up come under pressure as a result, with former World Cup winner Lothar Matthaus among those to voice his concern over the 25-year-old’s spot in the team.
However, with Marco Reus not having travelled to Brazil due to an ankle injury and with continued concerns over the fitness of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Maradona believes Ozil could be essential to Germany’s hopes of victory over Cristiano Ronaldo and his team-mates on Monday.
Writing for the Times of India, the former Argentina star said: “In Euro 2012, these two were in the same group and Germany quietly managed to win it by the slimmest [of] margins. This time, coach Low may have to think differently and use captain [Philipp] Lahm in the midfield, along with [Sami] Khedira in a defensive format.
“Ozil will be another important figure for the Germans. In a battle against his former Real Madrid team-mate, Ozil has to lead from the midfield since Schweinsteiger may not play this game due to injury.”
Maradona also believes history could be made in Monday’s clash as Miroslav Klose – who is Germany’s only out-and-out striker at the World Cup – looks for the two finals goals he needs to overtake Ronaldo’s all-time goalscoring record in the tournament.
“It will be a golden opportunity for Miroslav Klose to score two more goals and become the highest scorer in the history of the World Cup,” Maradona added.