World Cup final: Pogba's star is on the rise as glory beckons

Paul Pogba is desperate to add a star to his France shirt by winning the World Cup.

Saturday, 14th July 2018, 10:00 am
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:13 pm
Paul Pogba wants to earn a World Cup winners' star for his shirt

The famous blue jersey already carries a single star after Les Bleus’ triumph at their own finals in 1998, but Pogba is conscious that he and his team-mates did not earn that one.

Asked about Croatia wanting revenge for their semi-final defeat by France 20 years ago, the Manchester United midfielder told a press conference: “Croatia do not have stars – they want one.

“They have done very well and they want the victory, like us.

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“But I do not have a star. It’s on the shirt, but I did not win it. We want to go looking for it like all players.

“It will be a World Cup final, a great match, difficult.”

France will head into Sunday’s final as favourites in the eyes of many, with Croatia having endured gruelling periods of extra time in each of their knockout matches.

However, that is not a theory to which Pogba subscribes.

He said: “We are not thinking about it. Croatia played a very tough match against England. They did not give up. They were losing 1-0 and came back.

“There are two teams and one cup. They have played 90 minutes more than us – I don’t know if it’s a disadvantage for them or if they’re going to want to show that they want to win even more.

“For me, we are not favourites. We did not forget the doubts about us at the beginning of the competition, about our ability to play together.

“We haven’t done anything yet.

Luka Modric inspired Croatia to their 2-1 extra-time victory over England in the semi-finals, but Pogba insists it would be a mistake to consider him the only threat.

Asked if they had a plan for the Real Madrid schemer, he replied: “It’s not only Modric – there is also Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic and even the defenders.

“I don’t think there will be a plan for Modric. There will be one for everyone.”

Meanwhile, semi-final matchwinner Samuel Umtiti is targeting World Cup glory as he attempts to erase the memory of his Euro 2016 heartache.

The Barcelona defender headed France to a 1-0 victory over Belgium in St Petersburg and into Sunday’s showdown with Croatia and a chance to make up for the bitter disappointment of a final defeat by Portugal two years ago.

He said: “We didn’t win the Euros final, so that’s why it’s close to my heart now to reach this level at the World Cup.

“I hope it’s going to be different this time, I hope we will able to bring the World Cup back to France.”

Manager Didier Deschamps, who led the nation into that tournament, is bidding to become just the third man after Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer to win the World Cup as both player and coach, but is refusing to look back to his own triumph as a player in 1998.

He said: “I never, never, never, ever mention my own history. They know it. Some of them were not born, but they have seen pictures.

“That belongs to a lot of French people who lived through it, but not to the young generation.

“The story is different now, you can’t make comparisons. I can’t talk to them about players from 20 years ago, even from 10 years ago.

“I am here with them today to write a new page in history, the most beautiful page.

“I’m not saying that I’m not proud of what we did all together 20 years ago. It will stay there, nobody will be able to erase that, but you have to live in your times.

“We can’t really look back and see what is in the rear-view mirror. This is not how you are going to move forward.”