Football

Mesut Ozil must use World Cup to discover ruthless streak

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Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil is approaching his second World Cup finals after a mixed bag of a first full season at the Emirates, but Gunners fans who thought they were reliant on the midfield maestro for long-term success should spare a thought for Germany, who desperately need their brightest star to shine this summer on the biggest stage possible.

Ozi's finest qualities were on display throughout three terrific seasons at Real Madrid and the early part of his debut campaign at the Emirares, with the 25-year-old possessing a magnificent eye for a pass in the final third and a supreme appreciation of spacial awareness in congested areas, one that makes all the difference at the very highest level.

For Germany though Ozil will need to do far more than just provide ammunition for veteran striker Miroslav Klose, he needs to reproduce a surprise goal glut that was a feature of World Cup qualifying and put his own personal stamp on the tournament itself.

Across 10 qualifying matches Ozil scored eight goals, figures any top centre-forward would be proud of. It's not just the accumulation of chances taken, Ozil popped up with important goals and showed why Germany boss Joachim Low, and indeed Arsene Wenger, have such faith in a prodigious talent still searching for his defining moment in the game.

Ozil proved the catalyst for a credible 5-3 win in Sweden during that qualifying procession, finding a goal when it mattered most to reduce the deficit as Germany risked heading into half-time 2-0 down in that marquee clash.

Low also had Ozil on penalty duty and was rewarded with composed spot kicks, a prospect Arsenal fans will definitely envy after his shoddy spot-kick against Bayern Munich in the Champions League knockout stages.

Low has taken a massive gamble and heaped the pressure on Ozil though by naming just a solitary striker in his squad though, a 36-year-old old Klose who despite scoring 14 goals at three previous World Cup final will surely not start every game across a busy campaign.

That decision means Ozil could well end as the furthest man forward among Germany's plethora of midfield talent, a false nine if ever there was such a thing.

Thomas Muller often plays in that position for Bayer Munich, but Low likes him out wide. Bayern team-mate Mario Gotze is also likely to play on the flank after a cruel injury to Marco Rues ruled him out of the tournament, which means despite constant swift interchanges between terrific options Low needs Ozil to be the driving force in advanced areas.

Arsenal fans and Wenger should watch how Ozil deals with that pressure very closely. You can make excuses surrounding acclimatisation and first-season jitters all you want, in the big matches when fit Ozil wasn't anywhere near justifying his £42.4m price tag in his first Premier League season.

Bayern at home in the Champions League, Ozil missed a penalty and generally anonymous thereafter. Move forward to the FA Cup final, Arsenal's success was very much in-spite of Ozil rather than because of his efforts, a relative passenger on a famous day for the club.

Wenger has turned down the chance to re-sign former captain Cesc Fabregas in a €36m deal, the World Cup may show us why and if that decision is the right one.

Ozil tore England to shreds during a fantastic World Cup in South Africa four years ago, but that ruthless killer instinct has been lacking of late.

It's time for one of the most outrageously talented players on the planet to show us that under the microscope he can deliver, and allow both club and country to benefit from a new-found confident streak for the long-term rather than in short, if fantastic bursts of quality.

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Topics:
World Cup
Arsenal
Football
Premier League

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