Mesut Ozil – He Assists When He Wants
International football has taken center stage in various continents as I watched my Nigeria kick off their 2017 AFCON qualifying campaign with a hard-fought victory over geographical neighbors, Chad. Despite the fact that the country blew up tons of cash to build the new Akwa Ibom stadium, it was shocking to know that they chose to play the game in an aberration of a pitch at Kaduna but in the end, goals from Gbolahan Salami and Odion Ighalo settled the contest.
Arsenal had its share of players that featured for their countries in various qualifying fixtures. Wojciech Szczesny watched from the bench as Lukasz Fabianski played for Poland in their 4-0 win over Georgia. Arkadiusz Milik opened the scoring for the Poles before Robert Lewandowski turned up in style with a magnificent hat-trick in the dying minutes. A few seasons ago, it would have been Fabianski watching Szczesny from the dugout but it’s a different story now. Szczesny struggled to break into the team following his unfortunate incident in January and it seems the Polish coach now favors Fabianski.
Elsewhere, Olivier Giroud was part of the French team that suffered a shock defeat to Albania. Laurent Koscielny watched from the bench and never got involved but Giroud was replaced by Nabil Fekir at half time. A goal from Ergys Kace settled the contest despite the French bringing on the likes of Paul Pogba and Mathieu Valbuena to salvage something from the game.
The undoubted Arsenal star on international duty was Germany’s Mesut Ozil. When Germany were set to lock horns with minnows, Gibraltar, it was expected that it was going to be a goal fest and the game didn’t begin on the right foot for the Germans as Bastian Schweisteiger missed a spot kick on the 10th minute.
Against the run of play, Gibraltar fashioned some chances of their own but Germany finally broke the deadlock when Andre Schurrle was clean on goal after robbing a defender off the ball in the danger area and he wasted no time in executing a lovely placed effort that went past the goalie. Ozil created his first assist on the night after latching unto Jerome Boateng’s dinked effort before providing a simple cut back that was eased to an unguarded net by Max Kruse. Ozil’s cut back evaded Schweinsteiger but Kruse was on hand to poke it home.
Kruse turned from scorer to provider as he fed Ilkay Gundogan that controlled the ball superbly and placed it past Jordan Perez in goal to make it three for the German Machines. Joachim Low decided to take out Patrick Hermann and in came, Arsenal’s fringe forward, Lukas Podolski.
A minute after Podolski came into the pitch, Ozil created his second assist of the night for Karim Bellarabi. The Arsenal midfielder arrived first to a loose ball and threaded a cushioned pass to the Bayer Leverkusen winger that wasted no time in placing it past the goalie to score his first goal for his nation. Germany’s fifth goal of the night arrived when Gundogan got the ball from Podolski and dribbled his way past a host of Gibraltar defenders before firing a shot that was parried to the path of Schurrle. The former Chelsea man picked his spot and fired home to make it five.
Germany’s sixth goal had ‘hat-trick’ written all over it. Ozil made his hat-trick of assists while Schurrle scored his third goal on the night.
Schurrle crowned up a perfect night for himself as he created a chance for Kruse that scored his second on the night. Kruse wasn’t even selected in the starting XI but he came on when Mario Gotze suffered an injury early on.
Joachim Low would have a lot to think about on the performance of his players that were ruthlessly efficient in dispatching Gibraltar. Germany’s emphatic victory would do wonders to their goal difference but with Poland beating Georgia, the Germans are still one point behind the Poles (14 points) with Scotland lurking behind with 11 points.
Schurrle deservedly took the match ball home but Gunners were happy to see Mesut Ozil do what he’s renowned for. That was his 25th assist in 51 games for Germany and it took his overall assists tally to 161 assists in 414 games (stats via Ozil’s official website)
Ozil tweeted after the game that he’s going to focus on enjoying his summer holidays, which is no more than he deserves. This season Ozil scored five goals in 31 games for Arsenal and he looked a much-improved player when he returned from his injury layoff.
You can watch the highlights of the Gibraltar vs. Germany game here.
I’d end this article with this epic tweet from YoannArsenal.
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