Paul Pogba performance against Spain leaves Manchester United looking on with regret
France missed the chance to move five points clear of 2014 World Cup qualifying group rivals Spain at the Stade de France last night, courtesy of a second half Pedro strike.
The game went as many expected. Spain enjoyed the majority of the ball, with Les Bleus looking dangerous on the break.
Despite both sides having good chances throughout the match, you always felt that one goal would win it, and it was a lapse in concentration from PSG defender Christophe Jallet that let Spain breach the French defence.
The 29-year-old had for the main, impressed, but as Xavi seeked out Arsenal fullback Nacho Monreal, Jallet got caught under the ball and the left back fired across the area for Pedro to pounce and scramble home from a few yards out.
It was that mistake from Jallet that cost Didier Deschamp’s side the match and top spot in the qualifying group.
However, there were plenty of positives for France to take from the match.
Despite getting sent off for two bookings in two minutes, former Manchester United man Paul Pogba was outstanding.
The sending off was harsh and although the second booking was perhaps naive on his part, Pogba showed great maturity in his play and looked at home against arguably the greatest international team of all time.
Sir Alex Ferguson must have been looking on with regret after seeing the now Juventus star hold his own against the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and David Silva.
Ferguson didn’t want Pogba to leave Old Trafford and on this evidence, you can see precisely why.
The 20-year-old was lured to Turin in 2012 with the promise of a bumper payday. He is reportedly earning close to £1 million at Juventus. Big money for a top player.
Ferguson – who was said to be ‘out of his mind’ when Pogba left for Juventus – described an 18-year-old Pogba as having great talent and tremendous physique and on last night’s performance, it is hard to argue with those sentiments.
He looks the real deal, and with the likes of Franck Ribery, Mathieu Valbuena and Karim Benzema in the same team, France have every reason to harbour hope of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, despite their defeat against the Spaniards.
Les Bleus’ remaining games include trips to Georgia and Belarus and a home match against Finland, who surprised many when they snatched a point away to Spain.
France will expect to pick up three wins in those matches, but will have to hope Spain drop points against the same opposition, which could ultimately prove France’s downfall.
If France failed to finish top of the group and automatically qualify for the finals in Brazil next year, they have a chance of being one of the eight best runners up, so even if Spain win all their games, there is every chance Les Bleus will have a shot at qualification.
If they were to make it to Brazil, France should be confident of performing well. They showed last night in Paris they have the talent to compete with the very best.
Pogba will be the engine room of their play and with Ribery and Valbuena providing the flair and ingenuity, they have a balanced mix of industry and guile.
France could be the team to watch if they make it Brazil.Tagged in: football, manchester united
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