Moussa Sissoko has urged the French media to lay off midfield star Paul Pogba following his quiet showing in their Euro 2016 opener.
Pogba was a subdued figure in the 2-1 defeat of Romania on Friday at the Stade de France with Dimitri Payet emerging as Les Bleus’ hero with a stunning late winner.
Newcastle United midfielder Sissoko, who started on the bench against Anghel Iordanescu’s men, believes the Juventus man is unfairly singled out and has asked for restraint.
He told reporters on Monday: “I think you, the media, are too focused on Paul Pogba’s performance. The first game was not easy for the whole team.
“Paul is one of our best players, he brings a lot to the team.”
Sissoko also felt it necessary to defend Antoine Griezmann, who was similarly below-par in Paris.
“We know Antoine’s qualities and what he can bring to the team. He wanted to bring more , but it’s not just Antoine or Paul’s performances, it’s a team,” Sissoko said.
“We know the first game was not brilliant but the goal was to win the game and that was the most important thing. Now we have two more group games, we will work well together, including Antoine and Paul, and I’m sure that during the rest of the tournament, we’ll see a good French team with a great Antoine and a great Paul.”
Sissoko admitted coach Didier Deschamps may tinker with his line-up for the clash with Albania in Marseille on Wednesday.
“The coach has some choices to make. We will work hard today and tomorrow to prepare well for the next game,” he said.
“As usual I am ready to play. I may start, I’m ready to start. I will prepare myself in the usual way to try to bring something to the squad.”
Sissoko is also hoping there is no repeat in Marseille of the violence that marred the Stade Velodrome’s first game at Euro 2016 between England and Russia on Saturday.
He added: “We all saw the images, the shocking images. We feel disappointed and sad after what happened. I hope that the security will be at its maximum for the next games so that it doesn’t happen again.
“I hope it will be the last big, bad story of this Euros.”
Having lost their opener to Switzerland, Albania face the tricky task of trying to get a result against the tournament hosts to revive their campaign.
Gianni De Biasi’s men squandered a host of opportunities in the 1-0 defeat to the Swiss, despite being reduced to 10 men following the 36th-minute dismissal of captain Lorik Cana for two yellow cards.
De Biasi’s main selection poser is who replaces the Nantes defender. The most likely option is to drop Burim Kukeli, who started in midfield on Saturday, into a deeper, defensive role.