Pre-season friendlies are played with the sole intention of brushing the rust off footballers’ legs ahead of the upcoming season.
Hence they are not played with the same competitive edge one would expect from a regular match.
While it might mean such for many footballers across the world, try convincing Pepe that.
The Portuguese defender has earned a reputation for being one of the most competitive footballers in the modern era. Being a reputed master of the dark arts when it comes to the beautiful game, Pepe makes sure to hold nothing back.
The former Real Madrid centre-back was at it again during a pre-season friendly between Porto and AS Roma, which escalated quickly into a mass brawl due to an uber-competitive challenge Pepe performed on Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Pepe had already been leaving his foot into Roma players to the frustration of head coach José Mourinho, and he stepped it up a notch when he dug into Mkhitaryan while contesting for the ball in the 64th minute.
Pepe barged over Mkhitaryan in midfield while trailing an arm at his face, which sparked a furious reaction from the Armenian.
Mkhitaryan furiously got up and confronted Pepe, triggering his teammates to go after the defender as well – initiating a brawl that involved almost all of the players on both sides.
Suddenly almost everyone piled in on the situation, including the coaches and the staff who were desperately trying to pull players apart from each other.
The referee had to call for a cooling break to calm the nerves down, and Mourinho – being the experienced campaigner he is – substituted Mkhitaryan soon after to ease the situation.
The match ended one goal apiece, as Gianluca Mancini’s strike for Roma was cancelled out by Vitor Fereira’s equalizer for Porto.
Pepe in a “friendly” game 😀 pic.twitter.com/RFtX8ugN1M— Photos of Football (@photosofootball) July 28, 2021