Joachim Loew (Getty Images)
Leverkusen – Joachim Loew has slammed Germany fans who booed Manchester City star Ilkay Gundogan during Friday’s 2-1 World Cup warm-up victory over Saudi Arabia.
The Germans broke a five-match winless streak as striker Timo Werner scored and Omar Hawsawi netted an own goal before Taisir Al-Jassim banged home a saved penalty attempt for Saudi Arabia on 85 minutes.
However, head coach Loew was unhappy with the boos and jeers from German fans when Gundogan came on for the final 30 minutes in Leverkusen.
“The fact that a national player is booed like that helps nobody,” Loew told broadcaster ARD.
“What should Ilkay do now?
“He took a picture, okay, but he has addressed it with the press and underlined his support for German values.
“The topic has to be ticked off.”
Gundogan caused a political storm last month, along with Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil, by meeting Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and handing over a Manchester City shirt signed to “my president”.
Both Gundogan, who insists meeting Erdogan was ‘never about making a political statement’, and Ozil, who sat out Friday’s friendly, were born in Gelsenkirchen to Turkish parents.
Loew says the controversy has weighed on both players in recent weeks, “but now the focus must be on moving forward”.
When Gundogan came off the bench, Loew signalled to the Leverkusen crowd to cheer the Man City star, but to no avail.
Before kick-off, Germany’s team director Oliver Bierhoff attacked the German media for constantly bringing up the Erdogan controversy in press conferences.
“You keep mentioning it every day, because you have no other topics to talk about,” fumed Bierhoff.
“You can ask the questions, but you just have to accept when someone says, ‘I’m not talking about that anymore’.”
Germany play Mexico in their first World Cup match on June 17 in Moscow and dominated for long periods against Saudi Arabia, but poor defending allowed the visitors a string of late chances.
“I’m not worried,” said Loew.
“I know that we have to improve, but when the tournament starts, we’ll be ready.
“We started well and the first-half was okay, then we let up and gave away too many chances.
“Not all passes found their mark, but we had a lot of chances up front.
“There are things to improve, no doubt, and after two weeks in the training camp, some strength was missing, but that’s normal.
“Next week, we’ll have more power.”
Pleasingly from a German perspective, captain Manuel Neuer kept a clean sheet in his 45-minute spell in goal.
“Everything is okay with the foot,” said Neuer after only his second game back following eight months sidelined by a fractured foot.
“We lost too many balls and I felt we wanted to score from every attack, but we lacked coolness and cleverness.
“Comparing the squad to four years ago is difficult, it’s definitely different to the 2014 squad.
“We have a refreshing, young team and hope to bring the qualities needed to make the tournament a success.”
Winger Marco Reus, who along with Sami Khedira hit the post in the first half, said Germany will be ready when the World Cup kicks off.
“To be honest, I did not think so much about possible injuries, I focused on the game,” said Reus, who missed the Brazil 2014 triumph after tearing ankle ligaments in the final warm-up game.
“There are no small teams any more, Saudi Arabia can play football too.
“They did well in some areas, counter-attacked and the gaps in our defence were too big, but we are a tournament team.
“We have one more week to go and we will be well prepared, so Germany needs not worry.”