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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Mesut Ozil has 'no future role' as Germany enter post-World Cup era at Nations League

After a first group stage exit in Russia, Germany take on reigning world champions France in the first Uefa Nations League clash in Munich

Germany manager Joachim Low is under pressure to pove he is the right man to lead the national team into a new era. Getty Images
Germany manager Joachim Low is under pressure to pove he is the right man to lead the national team into a new era. Getty Images

Joachim Low has ruled out any possibility of Mesut Ozil returning to the Germany squad as the national team manager begins the rebuilding process at the Uefa Nations League following a calamitous World Cup.

Arsenal midfielder Ozil, who made 92 appearances for Germany, announced his retirement from international football in the wake of Germany's group-stage exit in Russia, with his statement accusing the German FA (DFB) president, Reinhard Grindel, of racism.

"I think everything has been said about this. When a player announces his resignation like that, you don't pick him for the squad eight or nine weeks later," Low said at a press conference on Wednesday ahead of Germany's Nations League opener against World Cup winners France.

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"Players who have resigned will not have a role to play in future.

"Mesut and I enjoyed a lot of success together over the years," Low added. "I have tried several times to reach him on the phone, without any luck, and I will continue to try and make contact with him in future."

Germany will be leaving behind a miserable summer on Thursday when they host France - the team who succeeded them as World Cup winners - in Munich.

The start of the new Nations League has thrown up an enticing match for Low's side, which will retain a core of players who badly underperformed in Russia.

"We are facing a new beginning. I feel that there is a positive impatience among the players to make amends for the summer," Low said.

Low, who resisted calls to resign after the World Cup debacle, is under pressure to show that he is the right man to lead Germany into a new era. He has a contract until 2022, having extended his deal in the spring.

"He has done a lot of thinking since the World Cup," midfielder Toni Kroos said of his manager. "From our training sessions, I feel like we are changing one or two things, and I hope that people see that tomorrow."

Veteran midfielder Sami Khedira was among those left out of the squad, while youngsters Thilo Kehrer and Kai Havertz have been called up for the first time.

Manchester City's Leroy Sane also returns after his controversial exclusion from the World Cup squad.

Low is also expected to make tactical changes, having admitted last week that a focus on dominant possession football was his "biggest mistake" at the World Cup.

"We have been very successful with possession football in recent years, and we won't give up on that vision," Low said.

"Against teams like France, we don't need to have 70 per cent of possession. We need to make sure we get the right balance and focus a bit more on the defence."

Thomas Mueller, an experienced member of Germany's ill-fated squad in Russia, said the sell-out clash in Munich is the ideal opportunity to help the team move on from their World Cup debacle.

"France isn't just any old team. A victory against them would be a huge step towards us getting over our huge loss this summer," said the Bayern Munich forward.

If there is doubt and uncertainty surrounding the Germany camp following their World Cup exploits, France enter the match quite the opposite after their hugely successful time in Russia.

France manager Didier Deschamps has retained the entire osquad that triumphed in Russia, with the exception of captain Hugo Lloris and fellow goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, both ruled out by injury.

As just the third man to win the World Cup as both a player and manager, Deschamps is more aware than most of the increased exposure that comes with such success, but believes it can serve his team well.

"It's a galvanising effect to have this title, in terms of confidence," Deschamps said. "This title of world champion, you have to manage it but it's not a weight or a burden to carry. It's quite the opposite.

"With all the positive aspects being world champion has brought, on the sporting front but also from a human and psychological standpoint, it's a huge boost.

"It won't prevent them from going through tougher times, but it's not necessarily linked to the tag of world champion."