Arsenal playmaker Mesut Özil has claimed that he will 'need some time' to get over Germany's premature exit from the World Cup this summer, but manager Joachim Löw has come to his defence after the 29-year-old became Die Mannschaft's scapegoat for their performances in Russia.
Özil was quiet in Germany's opening match against Mexico and he was subsequently dropped from the starting lineup in their narrow win over Sweden.
The former Real Madrid star was then brought back on matchday three but two late goals for South Korea ensured that the reigning champions wouldn't make it out of their group.
Since their departure, Özil has become the scapegoat for Germany's disastrous title defence. The midfielder has even been subject to racist abuse online, an issue which Sweden's Jimmy Durmaz publicly tackled in a video which has since gone viral.
"Having to leave the World Cup already after the group stage hurts so much," Özil wrote on social media. "We just weren't good enough. I'll need some time to get over it."
Although Germany manager Löw acknowledges the Arsenal midfielder didn't show up this summer, the 58-year-old has claimed the majority of his squad underperformed in Russia, insisting that the blame should lay at his feet.
"Because of a number of bans and injuries, we had to make changes," Löw said, quoted by the Metro. "In 2014 and 2017 that was also the case, it happens.
"A team only begins to gel later at the tournament, so it makes sense to bring some [players] in and let it go easy on them.
"It wasn’t only Özil, a number of other players didn’t perform as they normally would. I take responsibility for that and stand up for that, but I thought it was a good team," he added. "I didn’t think Thomas Müller had been that convincing in the first two matches and I wanted to make a point there."