France must accept favourites tag at Euro 2020 – Pogba

By Sports Desk June 15, 2021

Paul Pogba insisted France must deal with being labelled as favourites to win Euro 2020 after he led the way with a supreme performance against Germany.

Mats Hummels' own goal gifted Euro 2016 runners-up France a 1-0 win over Germany in their opening Group F encounter in Munich on Tuesday, putting Les Bleus well on their way to progressing to the last 16.

France – who finished with just one attempt on target – had opportunities to add to their lead, with Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema having goals disallowed for offside, though Joachim Low's Germany ultimately failed to make their luck count as they lost their opening game of a European Championship for the first time.

The winner came in fortuitous circumstances, with Hummels turning in from Lucas Hernandez's cross.

Pogba's exceptional pass played in France's left-back, however, and the Manchester United midfielder was on top form, attempting more passes (52) and more in Germany's half (31) than any Les Bleus player.

He also amassed a team-high 78 touches – albeit that total was 50 less than game-leader Toni Kroos (128) – and went in for 20 duels, the most of any player.

With the world champions having been tipped to lift the trophy they missed out on against Portugal on home soil five years ago, Pogba is adamant France must live up to the billing.

"The performance of the team is the most important. Without them, I would not have been so efficient," Pogba, who was also involved in a flashpoint with Antonio Rudiger when he appeared to complain that the Germany defender had bitten him, told M6.

"They helped me, they have everyone made the effort. This victory is for everyone, those who are also on the bench and in the stands to support us.

"Everyone was talking about our status as favourite, our attack, the group of death. We must assume our status with humility."

Didier Deschamps is aiming to become the first person to win the European Championship and World Cup as both a player and coach, and was delighted with a resilient display.

"We had a big match against a very good opponent," Deschamps told M6.

"I knew that my players were going to be ready, we were fighting for everything, even if in the first half we could have got the ball out a little better. We did not suffer that much in the second period. It's a tough game.

"This is our first game. In our group, taking these three points is important. We were at the level, this victory is good for us."

Deschamps' counterpart Low said he could not have asked for any more effort from his Germany side, who mustered 10 attempts to France's four, albeit only one of them hit the target.

"We really gave everything. We fought until the end, for 90 minutes," Low told beIN Sports.

"What we missed was a goal. We conceded a goal that we could have avoided, but otherwise I have no criticism to make. We lost a match, but we continue."

Germany next host defending champions Portugal, while France travel to Budapest to face Hungary.

Related items

  • Deluge of wickets turn third Test in England's favour as New Zealand wilt after rain delay Deluge of wickets turn third Test in England's favour as New Zealand wilt after rain delay

    Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell ended day three at Headingley tasked with producing another defiant partnership to put New Zealand in a winning position after England seemingly tilted the balance of a fascinating third Test slightly in their favour.

    Seeking a 3-0 whitewash with victory at Headingley, England resumed play on the third day hopeful Jonny Bairstow and Jamie Overton would steer them into a first-innings lead.

    Bairstow added to his overnight 130 to go past 150 in expedient fashion and, though Overton (97) was denied a Test century on debut, England claimed a lead of 31 runs as they were bowled out for 360.

    Tom Latham (76) produced his best batting effort of a difficult series, but New Zealand slumped from 152-2 to 168-5 after a rain break in the evening session to leave Mitchell and Blundell nursing a lead of 137 when rain stopped play.

    Bairstow was fluent once more after the morning session got going, his 150 the second-fastest in England's Test history as it came in 144 balls.

    Overton was evidently more nervous and his hopes of a hundred went when he chased an off-stump delivery from Trent Boult and edged to first slip.

    Stuart Broad (42) hit a barrage of boundaries to help England beyond 350 before he and Bairstow went in successive balls, Jack Leach the last man to depart after a pair of fours.

    Despite Will Young's early exit to Matthew Potts (2-20), New Zealand progressed serenely until the first ball after tea, when Overton had Latham caught behind.

    A brief rain delay undid New Zealand further. Ollie Pope claimed a brilliant catch at short leg as Devon Conway fell to Joe Root and Potts drew an edge to remove captain Kane Williamson (48), with Ben Stokes' faith in Leach rewarded by the spinner dismissing Henry Nicholls (7) caught and bowled and giving Mitchell and Blundell a recovery mission.
     

    Quick work for Bairstow

    Bairstow, who finished with 162 from 157 balls, was the star of the show with the bat at his home ground in England's first innings.

    He did most of the damage on day two but only Stokes, who did so in 135 balls against South Africa in 2016, can claim to have reached a Test 150 faster than Bairstow, who donned the wicket-keeping gloves for New Zealand's second innings due to a back problem for Ben Foakes.

    Can New Zealand's dream team do it again?

    Mitchell and Blundell combined for a stand of 195 in the first Test and 236 in the second. They will likely need to produce another fine partnership to help New Zealand post an imposing target for England.

    Potts, who has now dismissed Williamson in three of the Black Caps skipper's four innings this series, looks in the kind of form to thwart them.

  • Fritz scrapes past Cressy to take Eastbourne title again Fritz scrapes past Cressy to take Eastbourne title again

    Taylor Fritz earned his third ATP Tour title and second at the Eastbourne International as he defeated fellow American Maxime Cressy 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-4) in Saturday's final.

    Three years on from Fritz's breakthrough tour triumph against Sam Querrey – another compatriot – at the same event, the world number 24 was celebrating again in the last tournament before Wimbledon.

    Paris-born opponent Cressy had defeated a trio of home hopefuls in succession in Britons Dan Evans, Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper to reach this stage, but Fritz had just too much.

    While the Indian Wells Masters champion had not lost a break all week and maintained that record through the decider, he was taken all the way.

    "I played about as well as I could possibly play today, and it still came down to the final couple of points," Fritz said afterwards. "It couldn't have been much closer."

    That had not appeared likely after an opener in which Fritz's return game dominated 6ft 6in serve-and-volley specialist Cressy, who was broken immediately following a double-fault.

    That was one of four in the first set – as many as in three against Draper – as Cressy won just half of his service points, broken again to love.

    Yet neither player faced another break point, with a pair of tie-breaks required to settle the title.

    The first went the way of Cressy, forcing a decider as a pair of powerful forehands finally broke down Fritz, but he required treatment between sets and had clearly tired by the closing stages.

    The latest in a series of Fritz lobs proved beyond Cressy, not that the result should have come as any surprise – improving the champion's career record in deciding tie-breaks to an astonishing 20-3.

  • Bronze 'scored one of them in training', says Williamson after England and Barcelona star's bizarre goal Bronze 'scored one of them in training', says Williamson after England and Barcelona star's bizarre goal

    England captain Leah Williamson was full of praise for Lucy Bronze after the Lionesses emphatic 5-1 friendly win against the Netherlands on Friday.

    Bronze, Beth Mead, who netted a double, Ella Toone and Lauren Hemp scored to seal an emphatic victory for Sarina Wiegman's side in Leeds.

    England had fallen 1-0 behind to a Lieke Martens header, before Bronze put a cross into the box that somehow found its way into the net.

    A Netherlands penalty was missed by the Dutch captain, Sherida Spitse, who was making her 200th international appearance, before the hosts put on a show in the second half at Elland Road, bagging four more goals to ease to victory.

    "Lucy scored one of them in training yesterday, so I was trying to tell her to take it," a smiling Williamson told Stats Perform after the game. "But at the end of the day she's got forward and we've seen her in that position so many times that when she gets there she'll take it for the team.

    "But also the state of the game and the penalty, it's not great, but our reaction after, you can't change that."

    Following the win, Netherlands boss Mark Parsons said England are favourites for next month's Women's Euro 2022 tournament, and Williamson was asked if teams are playing against them with some fear.

    "A little bit, I think, we're playing well, we're the home nation. It's a brilliant combo to have," she said. 

    "Other countries will potentially look at the score lines and think 'Yeah, England are doing really well,' But I think we've just got to stay focused on what we're doing and what our job is.

    "We know that even though we won 5-1 tonight, there was many things that we can work on, and get better at. Being clinical is something that we've wanted to improve on and we've obviously done that tonight and in a lot of the games previously with Sarina [Wiegman].

    "I mean, if I was on another team, I don't really pay too much attention to score lines, because you don't know the ins and outs of the game. But I'm sure a lot of people will be speaking about us.

    "We're very much focused on the one game at a time cliche."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.