Germany forward Lukas Podolski has leapt to the defence of Arsenal team-mate Mesut Ozil, saying his best years are yet to come.
Ozil came in for criticism towards the end of last season with his form dipping for Arsenal while he slowly appears to be losing his darling status in the Germany national team.
Coach Joachim Low has already backed the 25-year-old midfielder to produced the goods "like he always has done" for Germany in Brazil, and Podolski has no doubts about Ozil's worth for club and country either.
"Mesut is a world-class player," Podolski said at a press conference on Sunday. "Mesut has the quality and he's going to give us a lot of pleasure.
"He is going to produce the goods in the months and years to come and people have just got to accept him the way he is.
"Just let the lad play football."
GERMANY: Group G team profile
GERMANY: Group G team profile
Joachim Low took Germany very far in the previous World Cup with decisive wins against the likes of England and Argentina, but was not able to stop Spain at the semi-finals. The 54-year-old has instilled great discipline in the dressing room and has turned his squad into a machine so strong that no one would be able to break them on their day.
2/4 Star player
It is hard to choose amongst all those high-quality players, but Thomas Muller epitomises the hard working ethos that Low has laid down on his side. The Bayern Munich player is a modern forward that knows how to move on the pitch with or without the ball, he knows how to convert chances and has proven to be the man that saves the day when things get difficult.
3/4 Emerging talent
Julian Draxler is only 20-years-old but his talent is so great that he is on top of Arsene Wenger’s wish list. The Shalke midfielder has scored two goals and produced six assists in 26 Bundesliga matches and his dribbling skills could be more than useful for Joachim Low’s side.
4/4 How they will line up: (4-2-3-1)
Neuer; Lahm, Mertesacker, Boateng, Schmelzer; Schweinsteiger, Kroos; Gotze, Ozil, Muller; Klose.
Ozil is more of a candidate than Podolski is for a place in the Germany side which face Portugal in their World Cup opener on Monday.
However, Podolski could still benefit from the injury-enforced withdrawal of Marco Reus to take his place in Low's starting XI.
"Everybody has got to be on their toes and ready," Podolski said. "I'm preparing myself as if I will be playing, and if I don't, then at least I would still be ready."
Ready for what Podolski, like Low, expects to be a true test of Germany's mettle.
The nation ranked second in the world faces the one ranked fourth with Low declaring it a "50/50" clash, but Podolski had a touch more optimism when he met the media on Saturday.
"Of course they have Cristiano Ronaldo, who is capable of deciding any game, but if we play the way we can, then we will leave the field triumphant," he said.
"If we don't, then we've just got to hope that we manage to keep Ronaldo under control, or that he doesn't have a good day.
"My aim is to get my hands on the trophy in the end. I don't come to play for Germany just for the fun of it, and if anybody were to do that, then they would be better off just staying at home."
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