Pogba warns 'PlayStation team' France to be humble or face Euro 2020 disappointment

By Sports Desk June 05, 2021

Paul Pogba has warned France they need to remain humble to avoid Euro 2020 disappointment, adamant they will just be seen as a "PlayStation team" if they are not successful.

Les Bleus head into the Euros well fancied for more glory, having won the 2018 World Cup and seeing their already-remarkable pool of talent improve even further.

France are one of two European nations – with Belgium – to have reached at least the quarter-finals of the past three major tournaments, while their squad accumulated the second-most minutes (522,421) across the top five European Leagues this season among those to qualify for the Euros – they certainly are not short of experience.

As many as 14 of their 26-man squad were in Russia three years ago, while they are now able to add Karim Benzema into the mix again – the Real Madrid star recalled after nearly six years in the international wilderness.

Benzema goes into the tournament on the back of his best goalscoring season (30 in all competitions) since netting 32 in 2011-12 and bolsters a position that was arguably seen as the weakest in the France squad, with Olivier Giroud often chosen to lead the line in Russia.

 

Add Benzema to Kylian Mbappe and a semi-resurgent Antoine Griezmann, who had a hand in 25 goals (15 scored and 10 assists) across all competitions since the turn of the year for Barcelona, and Didier Deschamps has a potentially frightening front three.

Griezmann boasts a brilliant record in international tournaments after being involved in more goals (14) over the past two such events than any other European player.

 

But France are not just a force to be reckoned with in attack, their record of 1.6 shots on target conceded per 90 minutes in the Euro 2020 qualifiers was not bettered by any other team, though their pedigree and reputation will count for nothing if they fail to rise to the occasion at the Euros, according to Pogba.

"We have a PlayStation team but it will remain a PlayStation team if we don't win a trophy," the Manchester United midfielder told Eurosport.

"We have to live up to expectations and there'll be even more expected with Karim's return. It's nice to see a teamsheet like that... It's always an honour but you always have to be present on the pitch.

"Being world champions and having a team like that, we will be expected to do even more.

"We must remain humble. I want to give this message: It's not a foregone conclusion. We hear a lot of talk but we keep out feet on the ground."

Les Bleus will be attempting to become the fourth team to win back-to-back World Cup and Euros – in no particular order – after West Germany (Euro 1972, World Cup 1974), France (World Cup 1998, Euro 2000) and Spain (Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, Euro 2012).

If Deschamps lifts the trophy at Euro 2020, he will become the first person ever to win the World Cup and Euros both as player and manager.

There is lots on the line for France, and they certainly have a squad capable of making amends for their Euro 2016 final disappointment.

But, as Pogba has pointed out, arrogance will do them little good in a group that also contains Germany and defending champions Portugal.

Related items

  • Wimbledon: Swiatek 'pretty overwhelmed' to see Serena back in SW19 Wimbledon: Swiatek 'pretty overwhelmed' to see Serena back in SW19

    Serena Williams' presence at Wimbledon has left world number one Iga Swiatek "pretty overwhelmed".

    Williams is making her long-awaited return to action at the All England Club, as the 40-year-old takes another shot at matching Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam victories.

    The American has played only two competitive matches – both alongside Ons Jabeur in the doubles at the Eastbourne International – since she sustained a hamstring tear at last year's Wimbledon, but is back on a wildcard.

    Three years ago, Williams became the oldest player to reach Wimbledon's women's singles final when she lost to Simona Halep. Six years ago, she was the oldest champion when she beat Angelique Kerber, although it seems a long shot for her to be challenging for honours this time around.

    That is in part due to the remarkable form of top seed Swiatek, who heads to SW19 on the back of a 35-match winning streak that she is aiming to extend.

    The Pole was not born when Williams made her Wimbledon debut in 1998, but she was the junior champion at the All England Club in 2018 and has since won the French Open twice. She is aiming to become the first woman since Kerber in 2016 to win two singles slams in the same season.

    Yet Swiatek remains in awe of Williams.

    "I saw her yesterday, I was pretty overwhelmed," said Swiatek in a news conference on Saturday.

    "I didn't know how to react. I wanted to meet her. I saw that she had so many people around her. I don't know her team. It was pretty weird.

    "But just seeing her around is great because she's such a legend, there's nobody that has done so much in tennis.

    "I'm pretty sure that she's going to be in good shape because she has so much experience coming back from breaks or just playing in grand slams. I think she can use it."

    Swiatek has never progressed past the fourth round of the singles at Wimbledon and will be making her first appearance of the season on grass when she takes on Jana Fett on Tuesday.

    "Honestly I still feel like I need to figure out grass," she said. "Last year for sure, it was that kind of tournament where I didn't know what to expect.

    "Then match by match I realised maybe I can do more and more.

    "I didn't have a lot of time to prepare. But I'm just trying to stay open-minded and kind of take positives from the situation and realise that I can play without any expectations."

  • Gareth Bale reportedly joining LAFC Gareth Bale reportedly joining LAFC

    Gareth Bale is signing for Los Angeles FC, according to a report in the United States.

    MLSsoccer.com, the official website of MLS, claims the winger will join LAFC on a one-year contract using targeted allocation money.

    That deal would expire next June, midway through the 2023 season.

    Bale's Real Madrid contract expires this month, and he has been looking for a new club after guiding Wales to qualification for the 2022 World Cup.

    The five-time Champions League winner has been widely linked with Cardiff City but instead appears set on a move Stateside.

    Wales face the USMNT in their first group-stage match in Qatar.

    Before then, Bale's signing would boost an LAFC team who already lead the Supporters' Shield race and have also secured Giorgio Chiellini ahead of the transfer window in MLS opening next month.

    LAFC's first match after that date is El Trafico against rivals the LA Galaxy.

  • Kvitova eases past Ostapenko to claim Eastbourne International crown Kvitova eases past Ostapenko to claim Eastbourne International crown

    A tremendous performance from Petra Kvitova saw her ease past Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets 6-3 6-2 to win the Eastbourne International on Saturday.

    Reigning champion Ostapenko had not dropped a set on the way to the final, but could not halt Kvitova, who was making her first appearance in a final in 2022.

    The former world number two – and two-time Wimbledon champion – made a strong start, breaking Ostapenko early on and racing to a 3-0 lead in the first set.

    Ostapenko, the Latvian number eight seed, faced eight break points in the opening set, saving seven, but she was unable to force any of her own as Kvitova comfortably served out to move ahead.

    Kvitova was hitting the ball with immense power, particularly on returns, but Ostapenko showed initial improvement in the second set with her first serve accuracy, which had been down at 55.9 per cent in the first.

    However, it was not enough to keep her opponent at bay as some more fierce returning from Kvitova saw her break in the third game of the second set.

    Ostapenko finally threatened to break the Czech's serve, but was unable to take any of the five break points she earned in a game that lasted more than 12 minutes.

    Her first serve dropped off again, which allowed the relentless Kvitova to take full advantage, breaking for a second time before serving for the championship and sealing her first-ever Eastbourne title.

    It was Kvitova's 29th triumph on the WTA Tour, but her first since March 2021. Her last success on grass had come in Birmingham four years ago.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.