Paul Pogba has warned France they need to remain humble to avoid Euro 2020 disappointment, adamant they will just be seen as a “PlayStation team” if they are not successful.
Les Bleus head into the Euros well fancied for more glory, having won the 2018 World Cup and seeing their already-remarkable pool of talent improve even further.
France are one of two European nations – with Belgium – to have reached at least the quarter-finals of the past three major tournaments, while their squad accumulated the second-most minutes (522,421) across the top five European Leagues this season among those to qualify for the Euros – they certainly are not short of experience.
As many as 14 of their 26-man squad were in Russia three years ago, while they are now able to add Karim Benzema into the mix again – the Real Madrid star recalled after nearly six years in the international wilderness.
Benzema goes into the tournament on the back of his best goalscoring season (30 in all competitions) since netting 32 in 2011-12 and bolsters a position that was arguably seen as the weakest in the France squad, with Olivier Giroud often chosen to lead the line in Russia.
Add Benzema to Kylian Mbappe and a semi-resurgent Antoine Griezmann, who had a hand in 25 goals (15 scored and 10 assists) across all competitions since the turn of the year for Barcelona, and Didier Deschamps has a potentially frightening front three.
Griezmann boasts a brilliant record in international tournaments after being involved in more goals (14) over the past two such events than any other European player.
But France are not just a force to be reckoned with in attack, their record of 1.6 shots on target conceded per 90 minutes in the Euro 2020 qualifiers was not bettered by any other team, though their pedigree and reputation will count for nothing if they fail to rise to the occasion at the Euros, according to Pogba.
— French Team (@FrenchTeam) June 2, 2021
“We have a PlayStation team but it will remain a PlayStation team if we don’t win a trophy,” the Manchester United midfielder told Eurosport.
“We have to live up to expectations and there’ll be even more expected with Karim’s return. It’s nice to see a teamsheet like that… It’s always an honour but you always have to be present on the pitch.
“Being world champions and having a team like that, we will be expected to do even more.
3 – French national team have kept three clean sheets in a row (2-0 in Kazakhstan, 1-0 in Bosnia, 3-0 against Wales) for the first time since August-October 2017, equalling their best such run under Didier Deschamps. Serenity. #FRAWAL pic.twitter.com/yxFmKMEnk9
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 2, 2021
“We must remain humble. I want to give this message: It’s not a foregone conclusion. We hear a lot of talk but we keep out feet on the ground.”
Les Bleus will be attempting to become the fourth team to win back-to-back World Cup and Euros – in no particular order – after West Germany (Euro 1972, World Cup 1974), France (World Cup 1998, Euro 2000) and Spain (Euro 2008, World Cup 2010, Euro 2012).
If Deschamps lifts the trophy at Euro 2020, he will become the first person ever to win the World Cup and Euros both as player and manager.
There is lots on the line for France, and they certainly have a squad capable of making amends for their Euro 2016 final disappointment.
But, as Pogba has pointed out, arrogance will do them little good in a group that also contains Germany and defending champions Portugal.
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