The midfielder impressed throughout in Tuesday’s last-four clash, winning the praise of his coach after the final whistle
Didier Deschamps was full of praise for Paul Pogba after the midfielder played a starring role in France’s World Cup semi-final win over Belgium.
Samuel Umtiti scored the only goal of the game in the 51st minute as Les Bleus reached a third final, where they will play either Croatia or England on Sunday.
Pogba was not involved in the winner but worked tirelessly for the team’s cause in St Petersburg, creating three chances in attack while also making four tackles.
“All players need to be mentioned but it’s true that Pogba was almost everywhere, not only in attack but he was also efficient in defence,” Deschamps told the media.
“I think [Belgium coach Roberto] Martinez had decided to put [Marouane] Fellaini on him so Fellaini was only worried about Pogba, so of course he had less freedom on the ball.
“But he knew what to do, he left very little waste. He was more creative in terms of recovery of the ball, one-on-ones, he performed very well.
“Paul has grown in the team, he is a very expressive player. He knows what he has to do and what he does on the pitch can only increase his legitimacy in the group.”
1 – Didier Deschamps is the first ever manager in France history to reach the final of 2 major tournaments (EURO 2016 & World Cup 2018). Guide. #WorldCup #FRABEL pic.twitter.com/YmpC8I575O
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) July 10, 2018
France last won the World Cup in 1998, with captain Deschamps lifting the trophy in Paris after a resounding 3-0 triumph over Brazil in a one-sided final.
He refused to be drawn on comparisons between the successful squad of 20 years ago and the current crop, instead focusing on his desire to write a “new page” in the country’s footballing history.
“They have to live in their own time – never, ever mention your own history [in 1998],” he said.
“The players know it. Some of them were not born but they saw pictures. It belongs to other French people who lived through it, but not the younger generation.
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“I can’t make comparisons, talk to them about players from 20 years ago, even 10 years ago. I’m here with them today to write a new page in history, the most beautiful page.
“I’m not saying I’m not proud of what we did 20 years ago – no-one can erase that – but one must live in their times. I cannot look and see what is in the rear-view mirror. That is not how you look forward.
“One day I will stop and think about it, but that time has not come yet.”