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Barcelona midfielder says he is not afraid of Antonio Rudiger

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(Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)

As Spain gears up for a highly anticipated quarterfinal clash against Germany in the Euros on Friday, Spanish midfielder Pedri has expressed confidence and determination. In a recent press conference, the young star shared his thoughts on the upcoming match, specifically addressing the challenge posed by German defender Antonio Rüdiger and the retirement of German midfielder Toni Kroos.

Respect, Not Fear: Pedri on Rüdiger

Antonio Rüdiger, known for his robust defensive skills, has been a cornerstone of Germany’s backline. However, Pedri made it clear that while he respects Rüdiger’s abilities, he does not fear him.

“Rüdiger is a strong and very good defender, but we are not afraid of him,” Pedri stated confidently. This declaration sets the tone for Spain’s approach to the match, emphasizing a mindset focused on respect and readiness rather than intimidation.

Despite his respect for Rüdiger’s prowess, Pedri did not shy away from criticizing some of the German defender’s on-field tactics. “The pinch he makes seems disrespectful to me because it hurts and is annoying,” Pedri commented, referring to Rüdiger’s notorious physical style of play. This remark highlights a broader concern among players about the fine line between aggressive defending and unsportsmanlike behavior.

Eyeing Victory and an End to an Era

Beyond individual matchups, Pedri’s focus is firmly on securing a victory for Spain. A win on Friday would not only propel Spain into the semifinals but also mark the end of an illustrious career for one of Germany’s most respected players, Toni Kroos. The German midfielder has announced his retirement from international football at the conclusion of the Euros, adding an emotional layer to the upcoming match.

“I hope Friday will be Toni Kroos’ last game,” Pedri stated, acknowledging both the significance of the match and Kroos’ remarkable contributions to the sport. Kroos, with his exceptional vision and passing ability, has been a linchpin in Germany’s midfield for over a decade, helping his team to numerous victories, including the 2014 World Cup.

For Spain, ending Kroos’ career with a defeat would be a symbolic passing of the torch to the next generation of footballers. Pedri, at just 21 years old, represents this new wave of talent, and his performance in the Euros has already drawn comparisons to some of Spain’s greatest midfielders.

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