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Germany forward Lukas Podolski has leapt to the defence of Arsenal team-mate Mesut Ozil, saying that his best years are yet to come. Coach Joachim Low has already backed the 25-year-old midfielder to produced the goods "like he always has done" for Germany in Brazil, and Podolski has no doubts about Ozil's worth for club and country.
"Mesut is a world-class player," Podolski said at a press conference on Sunday. "Mesut has the quality and he's going to give us a lot of pleasure. He is going to produce the goods in the months and years to come and people have just got to accept him the way he is. Just let the lad play football."
With winger Marco Reus out injured, Podolski could replace him in the starting 11 and he said that he is more than ready to step in, if asked.
"Everybody has got to be on their toes and ready," Podolski said. "I'm preparing myself as if I will be playing, and if I don't, then at least I would still be ready."
Mesut has the quality and he's going to give us a lot of pleasureLukas Podolski, Germany forward
Ready for what Podolski, like Low, expects to be a true test of Germany's mettle. The nation ranked second in the world faces the one ranked fourth with Low declaring it a "50/50" clash, but Podolski had a touch more optimism when he met the media on Saturday.
"Of course they have Cristiano Ronaldo, who is capable of deciding any game, but if we play the way we can, then we will leave the field triumphant," he said. "If we don't, then we've just got to hope that we manage to keep Ronaldo under control, or that he doesn't have a good day.
"My aim is to get my hands on the trophy in the end. I don't come to play for Germany just for the fun of it, and if anybody were to do that, then they would be better off just staying at home."