Benjamin Pavard says his World Cup goal of the tournament was not key to him joining Bayern Munich, as he reflects on his first five months in Bavaria.
Pavard has settled into his new surroundings spectacularly well, even though it has hardly been an easy few months for the record champions. However, the 23-year-old has dismissed talk of a crisis, insisting that Bayern are still well poised to win the Bundesliga for a record eighth season in a row, and mount a serious challenge for the UEFA Champions League title.
The French defender has been an ever-present for the Bavarians this season since arriving from VfB Stuttgart in the summer and is yet to miss a single minute in the Bundesliga, DFB Cup or Champions League. It is hardly surprising, then, that club president Uli Hoeneß tipped him to become one of his club's best-ever signings.
Watch: "The World Cup hasn't changed me" - Pavard
He has taken to life in Bavaria like the proverbial duck to water, and in an interview with France's L'Equipe, he says that the water in Munich is nowhere near as choppy as it has been made out to be.
"If we play as we have done in our last two games, we can do some great things this season," he said. "We can go very far in the Champions League. We can win the Bundesliga. We can win everything.
"It's not a crisis. If you look at it, we've qualified in the Champions League by winning our four matches. In the league, we're not 60 points behind either: we're only four points off the leaders. We've had difficulties in certain games. We conceded too many goals; that was our problem, but we've found solutions.
"In the last two games, we played well as a team. You really got the feeling of a team that wanted to work together, that attacks and defends together."
Those two games were under the guidance of caretaker coach Hansi Flick, who has stepped in following the departure of Niko Kovac. The Croatian coach paid the price for a 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt which left Bayern four points off the Bundesliga summit, although Pavard believes it would be wrong just to point the finger at him.
"I had a good relationship with Kovac," he said. "When results aren't so good, it's always the coach who goes. He wasn't on the pitch, though. We have to share some of the responsibility."
Pavard has done that demonstratively, delivering his second assist of the season in Der Klassiker, although he knows that there is no guarantee he will be keeping his place permanently.
"No, you always have to prove yourself. If you're not good, you can be taken out," he said. "With [Joshua] Kimmich and [Manuel] Neuer, I've played the most matches. I didn't necessarily expect to play so much, but I'm enjoying it.
"I'm a competitor. I wouldn't like to be on the bench. It's up to me to work to keep playing. I feel really good. I'm versatile. As long as I'm on the pitch, I'm happy. I know I can play just as well at left-back, in central defence or at right-back. I've progressed a lot in one-on-ones. You can see the games – people don't get by me often."
His own progress down the wing may have only reaped two goals, although as Pavard is quick to point out: "Bayern didn't buy me for my goal against Argentina [at the World Cup]."
They bought him to bolster their defence, and whether it was under Kovac or Flick, he has provided the assurances he was brought in to give.
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