Antonio Rudiger told his Germany team-mates to “play dirty” against France – in a game where he ‘bit’ Paul Pogba.
The defender was filmed appearing to plunge his teeth into the Manchester United midfielder’s shoulder during the World Cup winners’ 1-0 win to open their Euro 2020 campaign.
Viewers were left in shock as the 28-year-old left the midfielder screaming for attention from the referee.
But quotes from the centre-back before the game show that he always intended to play the game in an underhand way at the Allianz Arena.
Speaking ahead of the game, Rudiger said: “Of course, they have good forwards, we have to be ready to win the one-on-one challenges.
“We have to be a little dirty, not always be nice or try to play nice football.
“Against players like them, you have to throw down a marker.”
Footage emerged from the closing moments of the half of the Germany defender appearing to try and leave his mark on his opponent.
In the clip, there is a minute left as the pair are standing in close proximity, with Rudiger behind the midfielder.
Do you think Antonio Rudiger bit Paul Pogba or was it, as Roy Keane said, 'just a nibble'? Let us know in the comments section.
As he puts his head towards the Frenchman's shoulder, he appears to clamp down on the shirt – leaving Pogba screaming out for the referee's attention.
Rudiger also grabs Pogba's chest before the whistle is blown.
The incident also happened straight in front of the assistant referee in Munich.
The incident was also discussed in the ITV studio at half-time, with the pundits having very different views.
French legend Patrick Vieira said: “When you see that Pogba reaction, it looks like a bite. I don’t really understand what he is trying to do there."
But his United rival Roy Keane and former Arsenal team-mate Ian Wright believed it was soft.
“I don’t know what he has done there – he’s not flinched at all. I can’t see it," the Gunners hero said.
While the Old Trafford icon said: “I think it was more of a nibble than a bite. It wasn’t a proper bite but a silly thing to do."
Germany will take on Portugal in their next match while France will face Hungary, looking to secure qualification to the knockout stages.
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