Football

France not favourites: Pogba

Midfielder says they want to avoid complacency, which cost them in Euro 2016 final

France are determined not to make the same mistakes they did two years ago in losing the Euro 2016 final when they take on Croatia for the biggest prize in football, midfielder Paul Pogba said yesterday.

France face the Croats in the World Cup final at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday, but they are rejecting the favourites' tag which cost them dearly two years ago, he said.

The French beat Germany in the Euro 2016 semi-final, setting up an encounter in Paris against then-underdogs Portugal, who stunned them 1-0 in extra-time to win the continental title.

FINAL
FRANCE CROATIA

"We are conscious of the situation, we do not want to make the same mistakes like two years ago. We want to work for it, to give everything we have to take this Cup home," Pogba said.

"I think at the Euro, we thought it was already a done deal, the mentality was not the same as now. I cannot lie that when we beat Germany, we thought that was the final. I know the taste of losing a final. I don't want it to happen again.

"Against Portugal, we thought we had won it before the start of the game. That will not happen again."

France have been improving throughout the tournament and have beaten Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium in the knockout rounds without needing extra-time or penalties.

Croatia needed spot-kicks to advance against Denmark in the last 16 and against Russia in the quarter-finals.

They then came from a goal down against England to win 2-1 in extra-time yesterday morning (Singapore time).

MENTALLY STRONG

That is not a sign of a struggling team, according to Pogba, but one that has a lot of talent.

"The Croats had a very difficult match and they were behind. But they are mentally very strong. There are two teams in the final, a Cup and there are 90 minutes more.

"For us, we are not the favourites. We stay as we are from the start of the tournament. We have no doubts, we play together, that's our strength. We are chasing something and will do everything to succeed."

France, world champions in 1998 after beating Croatia in the semis, are in their third World Cup final.

It is unknown territory for Croatia, however.

"For sure the Croats they want the star (for winning the title) they have had a good run. They want to win.

"But I have no star either although there is one on my shirt. I want mine." - REUTERS


PREDICTIONS

France to win 2-0

"Croatia have played three long games and will feel the fatigue. They also have a day less rest."

- Tampines Rovers defender Daniel Bennett

France to win 1-0

"France have shown in this tournament that they are able to achieve their objectives whatever the stage."

- Ex-Thai international Therdsak Chaiman

France to win 2-1 in extra-time or on penalties. 1-1 in regulation time.

"France are very united and you can see that they attack and defend as a team.

"Offensively, Croatia are stronger with players like Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic, and Ivan Perisic, but defensively France are very solid."

- Home United coach Aidil Sharin

Croatia to win on penalites. Both sides to be tied at 1-1 after extra-time.

"Everybody is talking about how the French play defensive football but it will be an open game against Croatia.

"It will go down to penalties and in Danijel Subasic, Croatia have a very good goalkeeper who can save penalties. Everybody thinks that Croatia are the underdogs but that is precisely why they will win, because they will come into the game relaxed with nothing to lose."

- Balestier Khalsa coach Marko Kraljevic

France to win 2-1 in extra-time. 1-1 in regulation time.

"Croatia's last three games have gone the distance and the final will be no different. The only difference is they won't be celebrating after the match."

- One FM & Kiss92 news presenter Catherine Robert

Football