Benjamin Pavard refuses to blame Antonio Rudiger for neck stamp in France's goalless draw with Germany
Benjamin Pavard refused to blame Antonio Rudiger for stamping on his neck during Franceâs goalless draw against Germany on Thursday, dismissing the incident as part of football.
The two men clashed in the third minute of their Uefa Nations League opener at the Allianz Arena as Pavard slid in to prevent Rudiger crossing the ball from the left flank and, while he succeeded in snuffing out the danger, the Stuttgart defender was left with nasty stud scratches across his neck.
Replays appeared to show Rudiger drag his studs as he hurdled Pavard, but speaking after the match the 22-year-old had no desire to accuse his opponent of dirty play.
"It hurts a lot, but I donât think he did it on purpose," he said. "Iâve not seen the footage again. I tackled him, took the ball and he scraped me with his studs. Iâve not looked in the mirror yet, but Iâm told itâs quite impressive!
"Itâs football â" I donât think he meant it."
Rudigerâs actions prompted many on social media to suggest he should have been sent off, and on Friday the Chelsea defender took to Twitter to express his regret over the incident.
âSorry for @BenPavard28, it wasn't intentional,â he wrote. âI have apologized to him right after it happened and I also want to use this opportunity to wish him a speedy recovery!â
Germany created the clearer chances in the match, but could not find a way through a combination of Franceâs formidable defence and an impressive performance from debutant Alphonse Areola, who made several good saves deputising for World Cup-winning captain Hugo Lloris.
âWe really suffered [against] a really good Germany team,â Pavard admitted. âThey were vengeful after their World Cup.
âI think they had more energy than us . They returned from their holidays earlier than us. We stayed strong as a team, thatâs our strength.â
France are next in Uefa Nations League action when they face Netherlands in Paris on Saturday, though it is uncertain whether or not Pavard will feature.
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