Mesut Ozil missed Germany’s 2-1 friendly victory over Saudi Arabia – but it was fellow team-mate Ilkay Gundogan who bore the brunt of the home crowd’s ire in Leverkusen.
The duo, of Turkish origin, were criticised in the German media and by their FA after meeting with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month, with Gundogan apparently referring to him as “my president”.
And with Arsenal’s Ozil missed due to a knee problem – which is not expected to rule him out of the World Cup – it was Manchester City midfielder Gundogan who was booed on home soil with every touch after coming on in the second half.
The incidents, which irritated coach Joachim Low, overshadowed what was another unconvincing night for the world champions.
Comfortable at 2-0 at half-time thanks to goals from Timo Werner and an Omar Hawsawi own goal, Taiseer Al-Jassam pulled one back for the unfancied visitors, who themselves will be lining up in Russia.
Indeed, the Saudis, should have had an injury-time penalty when Mats Hummels pulled Mohammad Al-Sahlawi’s shirt.
It was Germany’s first win in 2018, their worst run of form for 30 years – and on this display first World Cup opponents, Mexico, should not be overawed for their 17 June meeting.
Saudi Arabia meet hosts Russia in the first game of the World Cup, on 14 June.