Ugly scenes have dominated the aftermath of Germany’s shock World Cup loss to South Korea, with star player Mesut Ozil clashing with fans in the stands.
The German midfielder was walking down the tunnel after his side’s embarrassing exit from Russia was confirmed, when a group of angry fans directed their fury at the Arsenal playmaker.
Ozil had to be pulled back by team staff members as the player reacted angrily to the barbs from his own supporters.
The German midfielder has been a popular whipping boy for fans after several inconsistent performances for the national side in Russia.
However, German coach Joachim Low insists Ozil was not the only player to produce a below-par performance in the crucial World Cup defeat to South Korea.
The defending champions became undone late on in Kazan, losing 2-0 thanks to a pair of stoppage-time goals as they were caught out chasing a victory they desperately needed.
As such, Germany suffered their first opening round exit at the World Cup since 1938, while also becoming the third successive reigning champions to not make it past the group stage.
Ozil, a common target of critics, was accused of not being himself by a reporter in Low’s post-match news conference and, while the coach agreed, he felt others disappointed too.
“Today, because of a number of bans and injuries, we had to make changes,” Low told reporters at the Kazan Arena.
“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 [the gelling process] go easy on them.
“It wasn’t only Ozil, 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.
“I didn’t think Thomas Muller had been that convincing in the first two matches and I wanted to make a point there [by dropping him].
“Towards the finish when we realised we needed a goal we took a defender out late on and that meant we became less structured, but we couldn’t wait, we had to risk.
“We needed to throw things forward and it opened things up in defence.”