The linesman apparently did not see him. Neither did the Spanish referee. And the TV reruns were inconclusive.
But Euro 2020 had its first real controversy on Tuesday:
Did the German Antonio Rüdiger bite the French Paul Pogba on the shoulder?
Let’s go to the videotape.
The incident happened just before half-time, as Rüdiger huddled to score Pogba from behind as he prepared to receive a throw-in deep in Germany in the group stage game of their teams in Munich. Suddenly, Rüdiger, the German defender, stuck his face on the back of Pogba, the France midfielder, and the latter fired a shot, grabbed the back of his right shoulder and then leaned over. forward holding it.
In the United States, ESPN’s broadcast team did not draw any conclusions from what happened. In Britain, Roy Keane, who knows a thing or two about getting under an opponent’s skin, called it more of a “nibble” than a bite on ITV. In Brazil, where he is set to play for Uruguay in the Copa América on Friday, Luis Suárez probably wondered why he had suddenly become a trending topic on Twitter.
But was it a bite? Or did he just look like it?
The reruns offered Rüdiger a sufficient degree of denial, former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg suggested on ESPN. He said there was no way the match referee – or even the tournament video review system – could speak out beyond a shadow of a doubt based on the available reruns. (The video assistant referee was much more sure of the two French goals he ruled out for offside.)
But almost as soon as Pogba vs. Rüdiger became a flash point, it was over. The game continued with Rüdiger taking a free kick. A few minutes later, it was half-time. But what, exactly, had Pogba complained about?
Neither Pogba nor Rüdiger offered any clarity immediately after the game, which France won 1-0.
UPDATE: Players appeared to have resolved any animosity, if there ever was any, after the final whistle.