Benjamin Pavard has revealed the identity of the toughest player he has faced in the Bundesliga – and it is not Robert Lewandowski.
The Stuttgart and France defender, who won the World Cup with Les Bleus in Russia in July, has been linked with a move to join Lewandowski at Bayern Munich.
The striker was on the scoresheet as Bayern won 3-0 at Stuttgart in September and already has 21 to his name this season in all competitions, having finished as top scorer in the Bundesliga in three of the last five campaigns.
However, Pavard labelled Schalke’s Franco Di Santo, who has yet to score this season in four Bundesliga appearances, as the striker who has provided him with the most difficult challenge.
Asked who has been his toughest opponent by Bundesliga.com, Pavard said: “Schalke’s Franco di Santo is exceptionally hard to keep in check. He’s always on the move and is unpredictable.
“There’s also Lewandowski, who is a complete player and is always so dangerous.”
Pavard is sidelined with a muscle tear in his right thigh, the injury another setback in what has been a difficult season for Stuttgart.
After finishing seventh last year following promotion from the second tier, they are languishing in 16th – putting them in the relegation play-off position – with just 11 points from 14 games.
However, with only three games to go before the mid-season break, Pavard expects their form to turn around.
He added: “As a newly promoted team, things are much harder in the second and third seasons than in the first. People expect us to do at least as well as last season, and that is extremely difficult.
“Last season’s Hinrunde [first half] was a bit bumpy, but we really came on strong in the Ruckrunde [second half]. Despite our bad position in the table, we have a very good squad and the atmosphere in the dressing room is also good.
“Everything here is set up to get good results. I’m absolutely convinced that we will soon get things right.”
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