In Summary
  • In a 1-0 semi-final win over Belgium, Pogba routinely tracked Marouane Fellaini back into his own box to snuff out his club teammate's physical threat from crosses.
  • "Paul was monstrous," said France boss Didier Deschamps. "He was very efficient in our defensive plan."
  • Pogba's extroverted nature has also seen him become a leader for a young team on and off the field.

MOSCOW

A towering physique and range of flashy hairstyles mean Paul Pogba rarely goes unnoticed but he has become emblematic of a French squad willing to sacrifice personal gain for World Cup glory.

France go into Sunday's final against Croatia in Moscow aiming to make amends for the bitter disappointment of losing the Euro 2016 final on home soil to Portugal.

Just weeks before Manchester United paid a then world-record £89 million ($118 million) to sign Pogba from Juventus, that final largely passed him by.

The intervening two years have not always been easy either. Pogba has been criticised in England for failing to dominate big games and was even dropped a number of times last season because his defensive work did not match the standards demanded by Jose Mourinho.

However, it is that aspect of Pogba's game that has been so impressive in Russia as he and N'Golo Kante have laid the perfect foundation for France's array of attacking talent headlined by Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.

"I want to win this World Cup and you have to make sacrifices," said Pogba on Thursday.

"Defending isn't my strong point, I'm not N'Golo, but I'll happily do it. I have grown up, matured."

France's back four and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris have earned deserved praise for four clean sheets in six games in getting to the final, but the chalk-and-cheese midfield combination of the quiet Kante and confident Pogba has provided the perfect screen in front of the defence.

'MONSTROUS'

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