MOSCOW, June 12 (AFP): Germany landed in Moscow on Tuesday to attempt to successfully defend their World Cup title and hoping to leave the political controversy surrounding Mesut Ozil and Ilkay Gundogan behind them.
Their buildup was dogged by the controversy surrounding Ozil and Gundogan after the players, who have Turkish roots, were booed in pre-World Cup friendlies for meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
German fans took a dim view of the perceived divided loyalty, by booing the pair in a friendly defeat to Austria.
“Whether that is right or wrong is another matter,” added Bierhoff, who said the players did not act “maliciously”, but had been “naive”.
Off-field distractions aside, the Germans arrived well-prepared.
They are bringing 26 sets of jerseys among their 12 tonnes of equipment.
“The first group game is always a sticking point, because it tingles,” said veteran forward Thomas Mueller, who will lead Germany’s attack.
The nervy 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia is now in the past.
“There is no reason to blubber now, we are world champions,” added Mueller.
“We have many players who are in a fit state.”