Euro 2016

Deschamps encouraged as Pogba repays faith

2016-06-20 14:06
Paul Pogba (Getty Images)

Lille - France coach Didier Deschamps hailed Paul Pogba's "great, great potential" after the midfielder put a difficult week behind him to shine in Sunday's 0-0 draw with Switzerland.

The Juventus star was one of few bright spots in a drab final Euro 2016 Group A game at Lille's Stade Pierre-Mauroy, twice clipping the crossbar and testing Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer with a crisp half-volley.

Pogba created a scandal after appearing to celebrate a goal in Wednesday's 2-0 win over Albania with an explicit arm pump known in French as a 'bras d'honneur', but Deschamps was pleased with his display against the Swiss after restoring the 23-year-old to the starting XI.

"Paul was the animator of the game in the first half," said Deschamps, whose side progressed to the last 16 as group winners.

"He had two quality strikes. After, in the second half, he got forward less. But he has great, great potential and I have confidence in him, of course.

"He only didn't start the last match (against Albania) because we had three matches in nine days and we got back very, very late from Marseille.

"It's also because of that that I brought in a bit of freshness (making five changes). We need Paul at his highest level."

The result meant that France, who also struck the bar through substitute Dimitri Payet, will play the third-place team in either Group C, D or E in the last 16 in Lyon on June 26.

"We were there to secure first place and we did it, so it's mission accomplished," Deschamps said.

"Technically, this Swiss team do some nice things, but we had the better chances. Had we been a bit more clinical or had more luck, we could have won.

"In terms of control, we need to do better so we can avoid having to defend a bit too much."

Despite his satisfaction with the outcome of the match, Deschamps could not disguise his disappointment with a dry, patchy playing surface that made fluid football difficult.

"The players did well (in the circumstances)," he said. "Even the one we had in Marseille was better.

"It's sad. I don't know who's responsible, but we're only in the group stage and to see a pitch in a state like that is really not a good thing."

Read more on:    france  |  euro 2016  |  paul pogba  |  didier deschamps  |  soccer


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