Benjamin Pavard: The World Cup Winner Who Consistently Delivers for Bayern

Josh Sim
Aug 11, 2020, 11:45 AM GMT+1
Benjamin Pavard is 4th on 90min's list of the best right-backs in the world.

For many football fans, Benjamin Pavard made himself a household name with his wonder goal against Argentina at the 2018 World Cup.

When Lucas Hernandez's overhit cross sent the ball bouncing towards him, no one knew what to expect when the Frenchman pulled back his right leg. Most expected him to pass it to the nearby Kylian Mbappé, or sky it into Row Z, like nine out of ten defenders tend to do in a similar position.

Instead, the right-back made the sweetest connection with his right boot, causing the ball to swerve beautifully into the top left corner of the net, past the outstretched dive of Franco Armani. It was a strike that caused jaws to drop all around the world, with Pavard joyously knee-sliding towards his teammates in celebration.

Within seconds, Pavard had announced himself to the world with a stunning strike that would be replayed again and again throughout the competition. Indeed, it ended up being voted the goal of the tournament, and one of the major highlights of France's glorious summer.

"It was only afterwards that I realised: that goal, that strike, will stay with me for life."

Benjamin Pavard, 2018

But while that goal came to be his most widely known highlight, the defender impressed many with his consistent displays at the back. Assured in his ball distribution, he also always seemed to be in the right place to make vital interceptions, and regularly timed his tackles to perfection against the world's best left-wingers.

Going forward, he was a constant threat for Didier Deschamps on the right, providing some terrific crosses for the likes of Olivier Giroud and Mbappé. And as his goal demonstrated, he was capable of getting himself on the scoresheet - in spectacular fashion too.

Not bad for someone who had only played six games for his country before the World Cup, in a position that wasn't considered his strongest at the time. After all, the Frenchman had played exclusively as a centre-back throughout the second half of the 2017/18 season for Stuttgart.

Pavard was a key part of France's World Cup triumph in 2018
Pavard was a key part of France's World Cup triumph in 2018 / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/Getty Images

Two years on, the 24-year-old has developed considerably to be one of the best right-backs in the world. A model of consistency, he's become one of Bayern Munich's most reliable players, who is trusted to deliver on both ends.

The footballing journey for Pavard began in his native France, when he joined LOSC Lille at the tender age of nine years old. Yet growing up near the Belgian border meant his parents would make a 60-mile round trip four times a week, in order to get their son to training and back - highlighting just how dedicated his family were for him to succeed in football.

" I ended up going a long way from home and it wasn't easy for my parents. It wasn't easy for me either and this is the reward for all the sacrifices they made for me."

Benjamin Pavard

In 2015, he made his Ligue 1 debut and made 24 more appearances before Die Schwaben came calling a year later. By chance, his signing came off the back of the advice of former Aston Villa and West Ham midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, who had spotted Pavard's potential and quickly recommended him to club officials.

Pavard quickly blossomed after arriving in Stuttgart
Pavard quickly blossomed after arriving in Stuttgart / TF-Images/Getty Images

The Frenchman could not have made a better debut for his new club, assisting winger Carlos Mané's opening goal just two minutes into their 2.Bundesliga clash with Greuther Fürth. 22 minutes later, he powered home a header from Alexander Maxim's corner, helping his side keep a clean sheet in a resounding 4-0 Stuttgart win.

A year later, he found himself starting against Germany's best forwards, with the Baden-Württemberg-based outfit achieving promotion to the Bundesliga in his first season. His versatile skillset meant that he was deployed in a number of positions, before excelling at the heart of their defence throughout the 2017/18 campaign.

His performances turned many heads in his native country, with Deschamps subsequently handing him his international debut in November 2017. While he was still a major unknown by the time he was announced to be a part of the travelling party to Russia, it's fair to say many knew his name by the tournament's end.

"Benjamin has become a star and he deserves it."

Didier Deschamps, France's manager

Interest in his services skyrocketed afterwards, and after returning to Stuttgart, it was confirmed that Pavard was headed for Bayern at the end of the following season. Since arriving, he's been a mainstay of their defence, moving over to make the right-back position his own and playing the third-most minutes during their title-winning 2019/20 season.

Pavard has slotted in seamlessly on the right-hand side for Bayern
Pavard has slotted in seamlessly on the right-hand side for Bayern / Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Going forward, the 24-year-old will continue to improve under Hansi Flick, whose emphasis on ball movement suits the player perfectly. His 89% pass completion rate has shown he's a safe pair of hands in possession, while only three other players have made more passes into the final third, demonstrating his comfort pushing forward.

Defensively, he has shown to be a consistent performer, and has never appeared flustered against even the fastest of wingers. Having won 74% of his tackles, his timing is regularly spot-on, and he always seems to make the right decision under pressure.

It's remarkable to think that Pavard, already a World Cup winner, is one of the world's very best after just a couple of years exposure at the highest level. While he may never top that wonder goal from 2018, he's got at least another decade to come at the very top.