Germany’s defender Antonio Ruediger wears a protective mask during a training session on June 4, 2021, in Seefeld, Austria, where the German national football team attends a training camp ahead of the European football championship 2020-2021. Christof STACHE / AFP
Chelsea defender Antonio Ruediger insists Germany need to get a little dirty in their Euro 2020 opener against France on Tuesday in order to subdue the world champions’ forward firepower.
France start as clear favourites for the Group F clash at Munich’s Allianz Arena while Germany’s defence faces a stern test having leaked 20 goals in 13 games this season.
Fresh from winning the Champions League final with Chelsea, Ruediger insists the Germans can ill afford to allow France’s star forwards like Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann room to attack.
“Of course, they have good forwards, we have to be ready to win the one-on-one challenges,” Ruediger said Sunday at Germany’s Euro 2020 base in Bavaria.
“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.”
He is set to make his 42nd appearance for Germany having become “a very important player” for head coach Joachim Loew who regards him a “centre-back of the highest level”.
Germany’s defender Antonio Ruediger (R) vies for the ball with Latvia’s defender Raivis Jurkovskis during the friendly football match between Germany and Latvia in Duesseldorf, western Germany, on June 7, 2021, in preparation for the UEFA European Championships. Odd ANDERSEN / AFP
Ruediger sees France as one of the favourites to win the European Championship title and says Germany must “dictate the game. We can, and are ready, to do that.”
France warmed up for Euro 2020 with 3-0 friendly wins over both Wales and Bulgaria, while Germany were held to a 1-1 draw by Denmark before a 7-1 rout of minnows Latvia.
Ruediger, 28, is set to partner 2014 World Cup winners Mats Hummels and Matthias Ginter in Germany’s three-man defence.
The Chelsea centre-back is wearing a mask to protect a facial injury suffered during Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final, first leg draw at Real Madrid.
“It’s still there for protection,” Ruediger said of the mask, “I’ll have to see what the Chelsea doctors say when I get back to London.”