2 minute read
12 Nov 2016
5:30 pm

Pogba’s game not about the goals – Deschamps


France coach Didier Deschamps insists there is an awful lot more to Paul Pogba's game after the Manchester United star found the net again in his country's 2-1 win over Sweden on Friday.

France's midfielder Paul Pogba celebrates after scoring during the 2018 World Cup group A qualifying football match between France and Sweden at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on November 11, 2016. France won 2-1. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE

by Andy SCOTT

The world’s most expensive player headed in France’s equaliser before Dimitri Payet got the winning goal in the World Cup qualifier at the Stade de France on Friday.

It was Pogba’s eighth goal for his country and followed his winner in the 1-0 victory away to the Netherlands last month.

The 23-year-old also scored a superb volley in United’s 3-1 win at Swansea City in the English Premier League last weekend but Deschamps said: “He is not a goal-scorer. He can score goals and has done so but I don’t especially expect him to do that.

“All the better that he did so today but I am much more happy with his overall performance which followed on from what he did in the Netherlands.

“For Manchester he is used in a different position in a different system. He gave us a lot of fluidity with the ball and was good at winning possession back,” Deschamps added.

“When Paul is playing like that and has a good partnership with Blaise Matuidi it is important for the team. If he scores, all the better. I know he likes scoring but it is not what I or the team expect from him.”

France are three points clear of Sweden at the top of Group A four games into European qualifying for the 2018 World Cup thanks to Payet’s 65th-minute winner.

There was a touch of controversy about the goal, however, as Antoine Griezmann was in an offside position in the build-up. The striker’s presence then led to goalkeeper Robin Olsen fumbling a cross, allowing Payet to score.

“Sweden deserved a better result. It is a bit of a shame because the second goal was offside, but these things happen in sport,” lamented visiting coach Janne Andersson, whose team had gone in front through a superb Emil Forsberg free-kick at the start of the second half.

Deschamps responded: “I saw that he was slightly offside. His tibia was offside. It wasn’t given, and all the better for us.

“But there was also a cross and an error that led to the goal. It could have been given. There wasn’t much in it and it went in our favour. I understand the anger and disappointment of my Swedish colleague.”

The game was played almost exactly a year on from the terror attacks that struck Paris on Friday November 13, 2015.

A total of 130 people were killed in the attacks, including one man when three suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Stade de France while France were playing Germany in a friendly.

A minute’s silence was held for the victims to mark the anniversary before the Sweden game, while France’s president Francois Hollande was in attendance.

“Time goes on but nobody will forget, or can forget, what happened,” said Deschamps.

“We need to go on but it is important to show our solidarity to the victims, their families and everyone who was so deeply affected a year ago now.”