Paul Pogba was almost everywherein FIFA World Cup 2018 semi-final: Didier Deschamps

Didier Deschamps was full of praise for Paul Pogba after the midfielder played a starring role in France’s World Cup semi-final win over Belgium. (Match highlights)

Samuel Umtiti scored the only goal of the game in the 51st minuteas Les Bleus reached a third final, where they will play either Croatia or England on Sunday.

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Pogba was not involved in the winner but worked tirelessly for the team’s cause in St Petersburg, creating three chances in attack while also making four tackles.

“All players need to be mentioned but it’s true that Pogba was almost everywhere, not only in attack but he was also efficient in defence,” Deschampstold the media.

“I think [Belgium coach Roberto] Martinez had decided to put [Marouane] Fellaini on him so Fellaini was only worried about Pogba, so of course he had less freedom on the ball.

READ | FIFA World Cup: Umtiti helps France edge past Belgium to enter third final

“But he knew what to do, he left very little waste. He was more creative in terms of recovery of the ball, one-on-ones, he performed very well.

“Paul has grown in the team, he is a very expressive player. He knows what he has to do and what he does on the pitch can only increase his legitimacy in the group.”

France last won the World Cup in 1998, with captain Deschamps lifting the trophy in Paris after a resounding 3-0 triumph over Brazil in a one-sided final.

He refused to be drawn on comparisons between the successfulsquad of 20 years ago and the current crop, instead focusing on his desire towritea “new page” in the country’s footballing history.

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“They have to live in their own time – never, ever mention your own history [in 1998],” he said.

“The players know it. Some of them were not born but they saw pictures. It belongs to other French people who lived through it, but not the younger generation.

“I can’t make comparisons, talk to them about players from 20 years ago, even 10 years ago. I’m here with them today to write a new page in history, the most beautiful page.

“I’m not saying I’m not proud of what we did 20 years ago – no-one can erase that – but one must live in their times. I cannot look and see what is in the rear-view mirror. That is not how you look forward.

“One day I will stop and think about it, but that time has not come yet.”

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