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Defending champions Germany arrive in Russia for World Cup

AFP  |  Moscow 

landed in today to attempt to successfully defend their title and hoping to leave the political controversy surrounding and behind them.

The Germans took off from in pouring rain hoping will stay fit after eight months on the sidelines with a foot fracture.

Their buildup was dogged by the controversy surrounding Ozil and Gundogan after the players, who have Turkish roots, were booed in pre-friendlies for meeting Turkish

The stars met Erdogan in last month with Gundogan handing him a signed Manchester City shirt with the message "to my president".

German fans took a dim view of the perceived divided loyalty, by booing the pair in a friendly defeat to

Gundogan has said the meeting was not politically motivated, while Ozil has refused to talk about it during

"This is his statement, I assume he will stick to it," said during the training camp in

"Whether that is right or wrong is another matter," added Bierhoff, who said the players did not act "maliciously", but had been "naive".

Off-field distractions aside, the Germans arrived well-prepared.

They are bringing 26 sets of jerseys among their 12 tonnes of equipment.

said Germany's rivals had all made advances.

"There will be a high standard of opposition. have improved, while and are up there."

have won just one of their last six friendlies, but all the focus is on their opening game in on Sunday against

"The first group game is always a sticking point, because it tingles," said veteran forward Thomas Mueller, who will lead Germany's attack.

The nervy 2-1 win over is now in the past.

"There is no reason to blubber now, we are world champions," added Mueller.

"We have many players who are in a fit state."

The Germans hope that particularly applies to Neuer, the world-class who has played just two matches since his foot last September.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, June 12 2018. 20:50 IST