Ozil fit for start of Germany's title defence

Joachim Low accepts Germany successfully defending their World Cup crown is a tough ask but says they won't fail for a lack of desire.

Published : Jun 16, 2018 18:13 IST

Germany boss Joachim Low says he has a fully fit squad, including Mesut Ozil, to choose from for Sunday's clash with Mexico and has tipped Timo Werner and Julian Draxler to shine at the World Cup.

Ozil has been suffering with a knee injury but has had extra training sessions this week in a bid to ensure his fitness for the defending champions' opener in Moscow.

Werner caught the eye at last year's Confederations Cup, a tournament Germany won under the captaincy of Draxler, and Low is confident the pair will take on a leading role for Die Mannschaft.

He said: "We have trained intensively, everyone is fit. Mesut had two extra training sessions this week, Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The overall impression is good, he is fit, the line-up will be disclosed to the team tonight, there are still two or three things I am mulling over."

RB Leipzig striker Werner has taken over from Mario Gomez as the leader of the Germany attack and Low has been impressed at his development.

He said: "Timo joined the team during the Confederations Cup and during the following year it's fair to say he has showed his most important asset: his pace. It's a great asset to the team.

"He seeks to always drop deep and he doesn’t just create but also scores goals. He has become a very important player for us."

Draxler appeared alongside Low at the news conference, but the coach laughed off suggestions the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder was therefore a certainty to start at the Luzhniki Stadium.

"As far as the press commitments go and choosing players, it's not my decision," he said.

"But he took a huge step at the Confeds, he was always a very talented player but the responsibility of being captain gave him another impetus.

"I am a fan of his ability, he's very fast and a good finisher. The last couple of months he was performing at his best and he can be one of the most decisive factors at this World Cup."

Germany will be looking to become the first team to win back-to-back World Cup titles since Brazil in 1962 and, although Low accepts it will be difficult, he says failure would not be due to a lack of desire.

"It is the hardest feat and history has demonstrated that because each team evolves," he said.

"At the end of a World Cup, players retire and you have to integrate new players but in terms of the ambition and the hunger, that is clearly there. There is no greater event for a player to play than a World Cup.

"But it's important to focus on each individual match, rather than think three weeks ahead.

"We want to send a message out tomorrow, win this match and then see what happens."

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