Euro 2016: Germany's Goetze unfazed by criticism for lack of goals
By Karolos Grohmann
EVIAN, France (Reuters) - Germany's Mario Goetze brushed off criticism of his lacklustre performances at Euro 2016 on Sunday and said players were used to being praised one day and knocked off their pedestal the next.
The 24-year-old attacking midfielder, who became a hero in Germany when he scored the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final, has had to soak up a lot of criticism after failing to carve out a single meaningful chance in their first two matches.
Despite a below-par performance in their opening 2-0 win over Ukraine, with Germany's goals coming from central defender Shokdran Mustafi and holding midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, coach Joachim Loew kept faith with Goetze for their 0-0 draw with Poland.
Playing again as a forward, Goetze was largely anonymous, before being taken off.
"That is how football works," Goetze told reporters ahead of their final Group C game against Northern Ireland on Tuesday. "Sometimes you are the dog and sometimes you are the tree."
Few things have gone well for Goetze since the World Cup final at the Maracana stadium two years ago, after he fell out of favour with departing Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola and spent much of the last two seasons at the club on the bench.
He did, however, retain the trust of Loew throughout this period and regularly scored for Germany before the tournament in France began.
"Criticism is part of the profession and we can deal with that. We are professionals and we now look ahead to our last group match against Northern Ireland," Goetze said.
He has been backed by team manager Oliver Bierhoff, who praised his work off the ball.
"Criticism of Goetze was not differentiated enough," Bierhoff told reporters. "He plays a role that is not one he plays all year."
"He uses his body well, opens up spaces and if we create more chances and more space then he will shine with the final touch. But it is important for all players to operate as a team and just keep fighting. Not to let off. Then the situation will come which will turn things around."
Germany are top of the group on four points, as many as Poland, and will definitely go through with a win or a draw on Tuesday.
Whether Goetze, however, will retain his starting spot against the Irish remains to be seen.
"I don't think about the attack," Bierhoff said. "Mario (Gomez) is still there with a lot of confidence from his season in Turkey.
"Andre Schuerrle has shown what his abilities are. We are very flexible."
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Toby Davis)