The Chelsea defender concedes that the pictures of the incident look "unfortunate", but insists that he never meant to cause Pogba any harm.
Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger has denied biting Paul Pogba in Germany’s narrow 0-1 defeat to France in their Euro 2020 opener. However, the Chelsea defender conceded that the pictures of the incident looked “unfortunate” after it became a major talking point across social media. Earlier, World Cup winners France opened their European Championship campaign with a 1-0 win over Germany in their Group F clash. A Mats Hummels own goal proved to be the difference between the two sides in the hard-fought battle.
The match was filled with goals ruled out by offside, missed opportunities, and the Rudiger incident. The Chelsea defender might consider himself lucky to not get any card from match referee Carlos del Cerro Grande following his clash with Pogba. Rudiger was spotted on camera pressing his face into Pogba’s shoulder toward the end of the first half, before putting his arms around the Manchester United midfielder’s chest. Pogba then appeared to complain to Del Cerro Grande but the match official decided against booking Rudiger.
After the match, the German centre-back insisted that he never meant to cause Pogba any harm even though the incident looked bad on television. “I should not come close with my mouth to his back, no doubt about it. It looks unfortunate,” the 28-year-old told reporters after the game. “Paul and I have talked about it as friends after the final whistle.
“And he stated in our little talk and talking to the press that it was no bite, as some viewers first thought it was. Even during the match, the ref told me that he would have punished me if he thought that it was violent conduct.”
The Manchester United midfielder said that he never wanted Rudiger to be sent off for that and termed his actions as more of a “nibble” in his post-match interview. “We’re friends,” he said. “This was nothing big. I’m not crying for yellow or red cards for such actions. He nibbled, I think, a little bit on me.
“I felt it, I told the referee, he takes the decisions and he took the decision. He hasn’t received any card and I think it’s better like this. I don’t want him to be suspended because of this.”
On the pitch, Pogba played a starring role as France walked away with all three points. His passing range and hold up play were a delight. Be it with the ground passes or long diagonal crosses, the Manchester United midfielder was at the top of his game with his distribution.
He and N’Golo Kante complimented each other brilliantly in the middle of the pitch. They both controlled the tempo of the game well and did not allow Germany room to work with. Kante was quick to close down the German attackers as France held on their 1-0 lead.
The defeat will be a big blow to the Germans, who will now start preparing for a crucial match against defending champions Portugal on Saturday. They are in a must-win situation to reach the last 16 of the competition. On the same day, World Cup winners France will face Hungary.