France manager Didier Deschamps has described Paul Pogba as the “complete” midfielder ahead of Les Bleus’ last-16 clash with Switzerland at Euro 2020.
The World Cup winners topped Group F to qualify for the knockout stages, and continue their bid for glory against the Swiss in Bucharest this evening (kick-off 20:00 BST).
And Pogba was arguably the world champions’ standout performer during the first three matches, after instrumental passes in the build-up to goals against Germany and Portugal.
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) June 27, 2021
Ahead of the Switzerland game, Deschamps was keen to eulogise about the influence of United’s no.6, who appears back to his best after overcoming injury and illness in the first half of last season.
“Paul is a complete midfielder,” explained Deschamps. “He has so many qualities: he can pass vertically, diagonally… all of this is part of his game.
“Then, of course, we work on the positioning, but it’s not only about playing good passes, it’s also about the positioning before the pass.
“His role is quite liberal, he’s not limited in the offensive approach.”
France’s 1998 World Cup-winning captain was also keen to identify Pogba’s off-the-ball work and all-round versatility.
“If there’s a need, he can also go back to win the ball behind,” he noted, “but on the pitch sometimes he can play a little bit higher or lower.
“His position can also develop between the left and right side – it just depends on the positioning of the other players.”
— Equipe de France ⭐⭐ (@equipedefrance) June 27, 2021
Despite France’s progress through the so-called ‘Group of Death’ – which featured Germany, Portugal and Hungary – their star-studded side won just one of three matches, with the world-class forward Kylian Mbappe still to find his first goal.
And, with left-backs Lucas Hernandez and Lucas Digne struggling with injury, there are reports in the French media that Deschamps is poised to switch to a 3-4-3 system – a decision Pogba has reportedly been keen on.
“I speak with the players, to get a sense of their feelings,” admitted Deschamps, who is aiming to become the first man to win the World Cup and the European Championship as both a player and a manager.
“A bit more with the key players – even if I speak with all the players. The aim is to put them in the best possible conditions to perform well. Aside from that comes the video analysis, opposition analysis and I always make a decision to achieve the same thing: to cause them [the opposite team] problems.”
Should France triumph over the Swiss, they will meet the winner of the Croatia-Spain tie in Saint Petersburg on Friday (kick-off 17:00 BST).