Pogba repays French coach's faith with strong showing
FRANCE coach Didier Deschamps hailed Paul Pogba's "great, great potential" after the midfielder put a difficult week behind him to shine in Sunday's 0-0 draw with Switzerland.
The Juventus star was one of the few bright spots in a drab final Group A game at Lille's Stade Pierre-Mauroy.
He twice clipped the crossbar and tested Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer with a crisp half-volley.
Pogba created a scandal after appearing to celebrate a goal in Wednesday's 2-0 win over Albania with an explicit arm pump known in French as a "bras d'honneur".
But Deschamps was pleased with his display against the Swiss after restoring the 23-year-old to the starting XI.
He said Pogba has great, great potential and has confidence in him.
"He only didn't start the last match (against Albania) because we had three matches in nine days and we got back very, very late from Marseille.
"It's also because of that that I brought in a bit of freshness (making five changes).
"We need Paul at his highest level, " said Deschamps.
The result meant France will play the third-place team in either Group C, D or E in the last 16 in Lyon on June 26.
"We were there to secure first place and we did it so it's mission accomplished," Deschamps said. "Technically, this Swiss team do some nice things but we had the better chances.
"Had we been a bit more clinical or had more luck, we could have won.
"In terms of control, we need to do better so we can avoid having to defend a bit too much."
But the French coach could not disguise his disappointment with a dry, patchy playing surface that made fluid football difficult. "The players did well (in the circumstances)," he said.
"Even the one we had in Marseille was better...
"It's sad. I don't know who's responsible but we're only in the group stage and to see a pitch in a state like that is really not a good thing."
His comments were echoed by his Switzerland counterpart Vladimir Petkovic who said the pitch had "hampered the quality of the game".
A point was also enough to secure Switzerland's place in the last 16, where they will face either Poland, Northern Ireland or world champions Germany in Saint-Etienne on June 25. "We're through so we now need to rest up and recover our energy levels. Now other teams have to earn the right to play us," said Petkovic.AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE