New Telegraph

February 23, 2024

Euro 2020: Peerless Pogba primeD to hang Hungary’s head

Paul Pogba often cut a frustrating figure in Manchester United’s shirt but he is a completely different proposition for France when on international duties and that is what Hungary will find out when they face Les Blues in their second group game of the ongoing Euro Championship.

It sounds cliche but the argument continues to gain ground that Pogba is always a better player when he files out with his French teammates on international duties. His last match for France abundantly underpinned the kind of quality people know he possesses but usually fails to put on a show at Old Trafford. Pogba menacingly terrorised Germany in their opening match of the Euros and it was not surprising that he was named the Man of the Match as Les Blues blew away their hosts 1-0. He was unplayable as the German Machines toiled all night trying to tame the peerless marauder with no success.

Last season Pogba contributed six goals and nine assists in 42 matches for Manchester United but his overall showing for the club was called into question as the midfielder often disappears even in big games. He has allowed his teammate Bruno Fernandes to overshadow him as the Portuguese contributed more than 20 goals to emerge the most effective Red Devil last term. However, arguments have been advanced in Pogba’s favour that Fernandes’s role affords him more freedom to express himself than the Frenchman who performs more defensive duties in coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer squad but the Portuguese has just spent one full season at Old Trafford and if Pogba had fared well when he was the main man, perhaps Fernandes wouldn’t have stolen the spotlight from him.

There is no doubt that he is given the freedom he wants in the France team with coach Didier Deschamp handing him the licence to roam through the pitch at will. More so, it is instructive to note that he has been able to thrive in that role because of the quality of players he is surrounded with in the middle of the park with N’Golo Kante pulling all the strings and ably supported by Adrien Rabiot who frees Pogba of defensive duties. At Manchester United, Pogba simply doesn’t have that level of player beside him in midfield.

For all that Scot Mc- Tominay continues to improve and has done plenty to earn his place, he cannot be compared to Kante, either tactically or in terms of ability and Fred is ever prone to errors even with his boundless energy. The player himself knows he plays better for his country than club and added that “We play in 4-2-3-1, also a diamond (in France).

I am a little more in the transmission, in the construction. But I have more freedom than in Manchester to enter the box, to make runs forwards.” Pogba powered France to the World Cup title three years ago and Les Blues will count on his magic as they take a second step to achieve their aim of winning the Euro trophy they lost to Portugal five years ago when they face Hungary today. A victory over the less-fancied Hungry in Budapest will take them to the next round of the championships and at the centre of the action will be Pogba

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