World Cup 2014: Mario Gotze and Mesut Ozil must both start for Germany, says Michael Ballack
Despite playing a similar role, both are worthy of inclusion
Germany's coach, Joachim Löw, must find space for both Mario Götze and Mesut Özil in his starting line-up at this World Cup, according to Michael Ballack.
Of all the issues facing Löw ahead of Germany's mouth-watering World Cup opener against Portugal in Salvador on 16 June, accommodating the talents of both his natural "No 10s" has sparked the most debate.
Neither player looked comfortable in Germany's 2-2 draw with Cameroon on Sunday – with the Arsenal man booed by supporters after a particularly subdued display.
A survey run by popular German tabloid newspaper Bild even found fans calling for Özil, the star of Germany's 2010 World Cup campaign, to be dropped by Löw.
But according to the former Germany captain, who scored 42 goals during his international career, Götze and Özil must both play – even if it means persisting with the former in an unfamiliar "false nine" role.
"If you see the talent Özil and Götze have, they both need their space. For good players there is always space in the team but they both like to play in the middle, behind the strikers," said Ballack at the premiere of Beats: The Game Before The Game.
The 37-year-old former Chelsea and Bayern Munich midfielder added: "In the past they didn't really play together, or one played on the wing. Löw chooses sometimes to play Götze as a striker, which I think is not his best position and he can't perform as well there compared to when he plays as a No 10. It's a big decision for the coach, especially now with just one striker going in the squad [Miroslav Klose], it looks like one of the two – maybe Götze – will be playing up front. For their quality, I think they have to play both."
After tomorrow's friendly against Armenia, Löw's squad fly out to Brazil and he will be hoping to leave the turmoil of the past fortnight behind.
Injury concerns to key players, including Bastian Schweinsteiger, Manuel Neuer and Philipp Lahm, had already darkened the mood, when Schalke team-mates Benedikt Höwedes and Julian Draxler were involved in a car accident at a driving event held at the team's camp in northern Italy last week, injuring two bystanders.
Ballack believes the incident and the media frenzy it triggered have affected the focus of the team. "It has not been the best preparation over the last two weeks," he said. "We had the accident which was around the team. It was a theme in the media, which kept the team a little bit not so focused on the basic work, so we are little bit... not scared, but doubtful about what has happened with the team.
"Against Cameroon we were not in the shape we expected but, as we know, there is still two weeks to go and, hopefully, they will get sharper and sharper so when the tournament starts they will be 100 per cent fit."
Ballack, who was named in Fifa's All Star team for the 2002 World Cup after inspiring Germany to the final in Yokohama, expects the South American sides to hold an advantage over their European counterparts.
"History shows it's always difficult for teams from outside of South America to win this title in that continent. Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil are strong teams this year.
"It will be really, really difficult for the best teams in Europe to beat them but I still think and believe that it's possible to see a winner from Europe this year."
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