Last arrived at Clairefontaine, while waiting for the three winners of the Champions League, Paul Pogba seems to have only to put on his slippers to resume his place in the group and the typical team of Deschamps. But why so many certainties, given the last months in the middle of Manchester United?
We all have old habits, choices that we make mechanically, essential objects that we can always count on. It can be that old raincoat when the weather turns bad, that campsite that we reserve every year the second week of August, that perfume that we wear for all special occasions. For Didier Deschamps, these things are players. Those he aligns at each meeting that counts, whatever the opposing pattern, the weather or the horoscope of the day. Darling, immune, soldiers, whatever you like. We can cite among these the pillars of the sidelines that are Steve Mandanda and Moussa Sissoko, or the indestructible starting eleven: Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Kanté, Pogba, Griezmann and Mbappé. A quick calculation shows that only four places can be up for debate (although Kimpembe and Hernandez are starting to fall into this category of safe guys as well). Yet in this legion of devotees, an item’s unlimited credit is worth questioning. At least in form. And the man to be presented at the bar is called Paul Pogba.
For the public and the media, it has become a tradition to ask questions about your form before a big competition. However, the kid from Roissy-en-Brie has always sublimated in Blue and especially when the road rose: revelation at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, driving force at Euro 2016, driving force at the 2018 World Cup. To the point of becoming indisputable in the mind of Didier Deschamps. Certainly, his position on the ground – left runner, right runner, sentry, leader? – was regularly questioned, but never its legitimacy to start the games. Perhaps because he has built a solid and lasting relationship with the coach, always being exemplary on and off the pitch (remember his unifying speeches in the locker room). From there to speak of favoritism? “If Deschamps pampers me?” No, we have a relationship that was created a long time ago. Donkey and carrot, we must not forget, explained the Pickaxe to beIN Sports. He always told me my truths, he always pushed me to play good games, not to overdo it, to just do what I have to do. He was always behind me, never gave me gifts, and was always straightforward. He helped me become this leader in the France team, he gave me that confidence. I’m very grateful. I try to give everything back on the pitch. ”
The force of habit?
We are in 2021, and again the post-tournament doubts are resurfacing. If these keep coming back, it is certainly no coincidence. The player comes out of a very contrasted exercise with the Red Devils, finding color only in the last hectometers of the season, back after an injury and an eccentric midfield that he no longer knew. He who was to be the boss of United Solskjær was stolen the spotlight by a certain Bruno Fernandes, whom he will meet again during the last group match of the Euro in Budapest. Today, his future is uncertain in England. We are talking about a return to Italy, on the side of Juventus … Where Adrien Rabiot is playing. Not insignificant when we know that the former PSG is the midfielder who has scored the most points this year and who could offer him good competition, if Didier Deschamps opts for a two-man midfielder, to cover a four-man attack (Mbappé , Griezmann, Benzema, Coman or Dembélé). The Mancunien’s last outing was a Europa League final, lost against Villarreal. During this meeting, he was able to admire his delicious openings from the outside ‘… before gradually disappearing until his release in the money time.
Always torn between his desire to animate the game and his duties to recovery, Paul Pogba is perhaps no longer a centerpiece in his club. What about the selection? During this Euro, he can always rely on (or even hide behind) a N’Golo Kanté who does work for two. Moreover, these two have still not lost when they were associated in the selection (one replaced the other during the defeat against Finland). But at the age of 28, the former Le Havre will have to press once again on the accelerator if he does not want to see Corentin Tolisso or Thomas Lemar give him priority when they have regained all their means. It will certainly go through a goal, something he has not done since the 2018 World Cup final against Croatia, to regain his precious X-factor cap, the one he has often worn since his debut on the 14th. March 2013 against Georgia. Because when they are good, no one wants to lose them, their habits.
By Mathieu Rollinger