Who has been the more effective player this tournament, Lionel Messi or young pretender and Wunderkind Mesut Oezil?
A question which a couple of months ago would have garnered no discussion. 'Yeah Oezil's ok, but Messi is the best in the world at the moment' would be a common answer for those who had any interest in the Bundesliga.
Those with who didn't might just stare blankly at the name Mesut Oezil, despite the interest from the likes of Arsenal and Barcelona.
This World Cup has been strange, in that star players, like Wayne Rooney and Chrstiano Ronaldo have disapointed. Players of this calibre find themselves saddled with the expectation of their entire respective nations, and some of them simply cannot deal with the burden.
Looking at the clash between Germany and Argentina it seems clear that their players are not suffering from this, players like Romero, Mascherano, Mueller and Khedeira seem to have taken to tournament football with a refreshing relish.
But of all the stand-out footballers of this tournament so far, Mesut Oezil seems to stand a little above more recognised and esteemed household names.
Mesut Oezil, is he really that good?
In a word yes. Don't get me wrong, he is not the finished package yet, but that just makes his performances all the more impressive. He has taken the vacant German no. 10 role and made it his own, at the tender age of 21.
He shows remarkable maturity for his age, doubtless stemming from the amount of first team football Werder Bremen afford him. Oezil's main attributes are his excellent turn of pace, and his truly world class ability to spot a pass, and then make that pass no matter the range, direction or difficulty.
Oezil is also a dangerous attacker in his own right, able to make incisive runs into the opponents box. His finishing is probably his weakest ability at the moment, as he often finds himself one-on-one only to have his shot saved.
Strangely Oezil suffers no such faults with his ranged shooting, and those who saw his match winning goal against Ghana saw a glimmer of the player he might be in a few years time.
Oezil, though a third generation Turk, has the entirely German ability to cope with the tremendous pressure that a World Cup brings with it. He has been roundly named the hope of the nation, and the player to be a catalyst if Germany are to win another World Cup, and he has taken it into his stride.
If anything it has spurred him on, he has not played with the same burden that Wayne Rooney did.
There must be weaknesses?
As with any player Oezil is not perfect. He is not the strongest player, and due to his hight at nearly six feet he does not have the same low gravity base as Messi.
He can also be guilty of going to ground too easily, hardly something unique to him, but his booking so far this tournament has been for simulation.
As I mentioned before he can choke one-on-one chances, but this is something he will deal with as his experience grows, and he will certainly gain more experience playing where he is playing.
So is he better then Lionel Messi?
For the long term who knows. Messi has certainly acheived more and had an amazing few season at Barcalona, while Oezil has had a good one at Bremen, where the competition is less fierce. Should Oezil move to a bigger club this summer, as is entirely possible, then his abilities will develop further and further, to the point where he can give Messi a run for his money.
Speaking exclusively about the short term, i.e. the 2010 World Cup, Oezil has performed above what many might have expected him to, while Messi has certainly been quieter than expected. The Argentina team has such a surplus of talent that while Messi is not playing at 100% they can manage comfortably against the likes of Mexico, well organised but limeted teams.
Perhaps when the two come face to face on saturday we will have a more clearly defined answer.
Its a clearly subjective topic, but am I miles off, is Messi untouchable or is Oezil well on his way to taking his European footballer of the year crown? Would they work well together at Barcelona? Let me know below.
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