Tag Archives: Paul Pogba

CR7 keeps Portugal In Euro 2020 as Benzema powers France in a riveting contest!

A challenge pitting the might of France against the class of Portugal surely deserved the final outcome of a 2-2 draw amid plenty of drama and a pulsating heartbeat.

Yes, a packed Puskas Arena in Budapest welcomed the European Champions and the World Champions as the fans in attendance expected nothing less than a riveting contest.

Afterall, one surely can’t find games of this magnitude coming along every day as a sea of Les Bleus fans mixed with the maroon brigade of Portugal was a sight to behold.

Boy, did this challenge of epic proportions live up to the hype with two ex-teammates at Real Madrid lighting up the fixture as few would.  A Cristiano Ronaldo first nullified by a Kareem Benzema equaliser and then a Kareem Benzema second nullified by a Cristiano Ronaldo equaliser.

Wow, talk about role reversals here!

So, as both these powerhouses sealed their place in the last 16, lets dissect this game of stardom, performance, drama and skill:

Ronaldo and Benzema share the spoils in the first 45

Despite beating France in their own backyard to win the European Championship in 2016, Portugal entered this contest as slight underdogs’ having only won this bout in their last 13 matches against the Les Bleus with 11 losses and one draw.

Well, for me the underdog status wasn’t much of a concern as CR7 looked ready for this showdown having already scored a brace against Hungary in their first outing.

Credit – Reuters

And ready he was, as only in the 6th minute, the 36-year-old footballing institution created Portugal’s first opportunity on goal with a header that was comfortably gobbled by the experienced Tottenham and French Captain, Hugo Lloris.

The attack minded French side created a brilliant opportunity of their own in the 16th minute as they opened up the Portuguese defence with a mouth-watering through ball by Paul Pogba to Mbappe who extracted a rather brilliant save from Rui Patricio.

With a chance created at either end in no time, surely this contest looked to have goals aplenty.

The goal would come for Portugal in the 30th minute courtesy a penalty after Lloris had rammed into Danilo trying to clear the ball away from a long cross. Not the ones to be given a penalty on albeit the referee thought otherwise along with soaring the French captain misery’s courtesy showing him a yellow.

Thanks to this lucky break, CR7 bent in his 108th strike for Portugal.

Credit – Reuters

One would agree, football is a funny game as what goes around comes around.

Portugal this time were at the receiving end of a penalty, seconds before the end of the first 45 as Mbappe on this occasion collided with Portuguese defender Semedo and fell on the ground trying to receive a long ball in the Portuguese D. Again, it didn’t seem like a penalty but was still given as Kareem Benzema slotted it in to draw France level at the stroke of halftime.

Credit – Reuters

As time was called on the first half, surely it seemed there was more drama instore.

The drama of the ex-Madrid teammates continued in the second 45

To say this game was dramatic was an understatement.

Yes, as soon as the second half unfolded, it was France’s turn to go a goal up, courtesy Kareem Benzema again. The Real Madrid star made no mistake in slotting the ball in after he was fed with a crucial long ball by who other than Paul Pogba. The French midfielder was at his skilful best in controlling the midfield and aided the forwards with sumptuous long balls. The decision did go to VAR to check Benzema being off-side, albeit the goal was given.

Credit – Reuters

In a sheer turn of fortunes, the French now led 2-1 courtesy Benzema’s brace.

Portugal and CR7 had all to do to as their very place in the tournament was at stake.

Well, creating opportunity in the face of adversity is Ronaldo’s forte as the Portuguese talisman earned yet another penalty for his side. The ball hit the hand of the French defender, Kounde in the D, as the third spot-kick of the game was given, the highest for a European Championship fixture.

The result, Portugal drew level as expected. CR7 struck his 109th to go level with Iran striker Ali Daei as the joint highest scorer in the history of international football. Wow, what a feat by remarkable Ronaldo!

Credit – Reuters

France almost got their third in the 68th minute as Pogba fired a shot from the edge of the Portuguese penalty area with Rui Patricio again doing superbly well to keep the ball out and then saved the rebound effort from Griezmann. Truly fantastic!

The game was completely on a knife edge with my heart-rate fluctuating every moment.

Well, when I thought things couldn’t get more dramatic, I was up for a huge surprise, as France almost managed yet another penalty in injury time of the full 90 as Coman was brought down by Bruno Fernandes in the penalty area.

VAR luckily for Portugal saw it otherwise as the game finally ended amid drama aplenty at two apiece. The most befitting result to be honest as both teams were assured of their round of 16 berths.

Portugal have a tougher task ahead than France

So, as the two teams march into the pre-quarters, France as the leaders of Group F have a fixture that’s relatively easier against Switzerland vis-à-vis, the likes Portugal would face against another European superpower in Belgium.

Yes, having finished third in this group behind France and Germany, Portugal would surely need to bring their A game when they lock horns with the Red Devils. A contest which would be as exciting as their French excursion.

Lots to look forward to as the Championship enters its business end.

And before I forget, My Dear England be ready for the German challenge, a team that has found their lost mojo and how!

Paul Pogba Fires Manchester United Into Europa League Quarter Finals

With his teams Round of 16 clash on a knife edge at the San Siro, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba made his return from injury in the second half of the second leg, and within minutes had fired his team into a 1-0 lead.

While the mercurial Frenchman often frustrates fans, many of whom didn’t want to see Pogba pull on a United shirt again after his agent claimed his player should leave in the January transfer window, there is no doubt United are a better team with him on the pitch.

Bruno Fernandes, who has carried the bulk of United’s creative work while Pogba was out injured, was visibly relieved to have his partner in crime alongside him in United’s engine room for the crucial second half.

While the Europa League Round of 16 isn’t the biggest stage of all, any appearance at the San Siro is a big moment, so when Pogba rifled his shot home from close range, it seemed as if the script had been written for him – not his good friend Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the opposition dugout.

Huge Week For Manchester United

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had earlier acknowledged that it was a huge week for the club, who were following up their vital 1-0 home win over West Ham in the Premier League with this second leg tie, before facing Leicester in the FA Cup quarter finals.

The manager was delighted with the performance, and goal, from the fit-again Pogba, and was full of praise for the influence of the Frenchman.

“I’m very happy of course. A very well-done job, because they were two very even games really. It was always going to be decided on a piece of quality, or a piece of magic from someone. A set-play maybe. Dean [Henderson] had a fantastic save towards the end from Zlatan’s [Ibrahimovic] header. It was a very good goal by Paul [Pogba]. I think we did enough to go through. We’ve come through a very difficult tie against a fantastic club and a very good team.”

“We’ve missed Paul. He’s been out for almost two months and of course any team would miss a player like Paul Pogba and he was just getting into his best form. And for us he’s going to give us a really big boost for the rest of the season. Today he made a very, very big difference for us. Technically, he’s one of the best footballers around. It was a very good slot. I’m very happy for Paul that he’s back now and the boys have done very well in the two months without him. We’ve worked hard, playing a game every three days and now we’ve added Donny, David’s back and hopefully Anthony and Edinson are back soon, so it’s looking bright.”

Another Clean Sheet

Although the goals had dried up in recent weeks, United’s defence have held their opponents at bay, giving the team confidence as they go chasing goals, such as the crucial goal in Milan.

“You give yourself a chance to win a game of football [with clean sheets]. Dean [Henderson] had a fantastic save towards the end from the big lad [Zlatan Ibrahimovic] and I’m very pleased with everyone’s defending. From the front you see Dan James, Mason [Greenwood], Marcus [Rashford] and Bruno [Fernandes] – the front four all pressing like they did. We always know that the back six, with Scott [McTominay] and Fred and the back four, always give everything,” added Solskjaer.

United Look To Take Next Step

With United knocking out AC Milan, who were arguably the favourites for the competition, they have given themselves a good chance to progress all the way to the final.

As their manager knows though, you do need a slice of luck in cup competitions…

“It’s going to be difficult, no matter what. We’ve beaten Sociedad, we’ve beaten AC Milan so we’re confident in our own ability. We know we have to turn up, we have to play well. We can’t play like we did, for spells in the first half at times in the last game against Milan, coming into it with no intensity. We’ve got league games, Europa League games, and we’re looking forward to it. That’s what we want. This is the only way we can improve, by getting used to winning games that matter. You’ve got to be spot on when you play in cup competitions as anything can happen. Today I thought it was a penalty for Dan James in the first five minutes or whatever it was. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. Anything can happen in cup competitions, but we’re through, we’re confident and looking forward to the draw.”

“Momentum is underrated in football. When you keep winning games, you get that boost of energy, you get that feeling when you go on to the pitch. You’re more confident. If you’re losing, you’re afraid of losing again and afraid of making mistakes. This means a lot for the boys and the atmosphere is good in the dressing room. We’ve just got to recover quickly because there’s a game again on Sunday which we’re looking forward to. We’ve got a breather from the league, but it’s a big game again, a quarter-final and we dust ourselves down and go again,” concluded Solskjaer.

With one game left before the international break, full focus now turns to an away game against Leicester in an FA Cup quarter final showdown.

Win that, and the belief will grow that United can get their hands on some silverware this year.

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba Set To Miss Three Weeks With Injury

Manchester United’s player of the month in January is set to miss up to three weeks of football after injuring his thigh in the 3-3 draw with Everton.

The influential midfielder will miss tomorrow’s FA Cup tie against West Ham, as well as the Premier League fixture at West Bromwich Albion, and potentially both ties of the Europa League showdown with Real Sociedad.

After a challenging run of results, the injury to his star midfielder couldn’t have come at a worse time for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

“It’s an injury that will take a few weeks to heal. He’s just started his recovery, working with the medical staff and we’ll get him back as soon and as safely as we can.

“Of course, Paul has been very important for us and we’re not going to take any risks. [So it is] A few weeks definitely.

“You never want to be injured and, especially, now Paul was really finding his form and enjoying his football. For us, we just have to take as many points and wins as possible, when you lose players.

“We’ve been very healthy and strong for a long period so we can’t moan too much,” said Solskjaer.

Solskjaer Makes Changes For Hammers Cup Tie

With Manchester United welcoming West Ham United to Old Trafford on Tuesday, Solskjaer confirmed that as well as Pogba, he will be without defenders Eric Bailly and Phil Jones for the fifth-round match up.

“Eric is getting better. He’s still not available for the Cup game tomorrow we don’t think. He’s been out on the grass and training and we’ll make a decision tomorrow. I don’t think he’ll be involved.

“Everyone [else] is available and trained this morning, apart from Phil [Jones] who’s still out.”

After undergoing an operation in the Summer, Jones is yet to make a first team appearance in the 2020/21 season. However, the manager is looking forward to having Jones back at his disposal soon.

As for Jones, he is yet to play for the Reds this season having undergone an operation in the summer. However, our no.4 is targeting a return and was included in our Premier League squad for the second half of the 2020/21 term.

“I wish to get him back into the squad as quick as I can.

“He’s a solid citizen and one of those you can trust. He’s been working so hard to get back, [he’s] had a couple of setbacks but, hopefully, we can get some good use [out of him].”

With Bailly and Jones unavailable, it means the manager may be forced to call on captain Harry Maguire again, despite the defender being in need of a rest, having played over 50 hours of football this season.

If he physically can keep going and going. The nature of a centre-back position is a different position compared to full-backs and wide men or even centre midfielders, or any other position on the pitch. The centre-backs are the ones who are protected mostly from the real fatigue because you’re working less. Then again, he’s never injured, Harry. He’s never been really badly hurt, touch wood, and hopefully he’ll be able to carry on. But I’m not sure if he’ll play on Tuesday or not. I’ve not decided yet.”

The Trophy Hunt Continues

After making the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup, FA Cup, and Europa League last season, Solskjaer is looking for his team to take the next step in their progression, and that starts with lifting a trophy.

“Well, of course a trophy is always what you’re aiming for. You want to win every single competition – FA Cup, Europa League, every game you play, the Premier League. And that’s the ultimate challenge and a test for a team: to go all the way. We’ve improved, we’ve had a plan in place, and I think the team is getting better and better. Last season’s semi-final was disappointing to lose that one of course, and you just want to go all the way ad you want to lift the trophy. That’s not the be all and end all, of course it isn’t; it’s the bread and butter of the Premier League that is also a measure of how good a team is. To get to a final, sometimes you’re lucky with the draw, but to win a final, then all the good teams have been beaten. So that’s the next step for us in the development of this team: to go all the way in a competition.”

After throwing away two points in the final seconds against Everton, Solskjaer has been tasked with picking up his players quickly, with only three days between matches.

“They’ll have to be lifted, but they’ve got the personality and attitude and character to lift themselves as well. We’re not going to have time to dwell on it too much and show videos, but of course there’s details there that we have to improve on. A couple of things that we’ll look at. But there’s not going to be time enough to work on it on the training field, when the [next] game’s already on Tuesday.”

After another high-profile blunder by keeper David de Gea, there have been calls for him to be replaced by Dean Henderson. The English shot stopper has often been the teams man between the sticks in cup competitions, and is ready to take his chance.

“Well, Dean has played well whenever he’s got the chance, and he’s matured. For me, he’s developed his game. I know he’s not played as many games as he would have done last season, but you see every game when he plays, and in training, his improvement. He’s working hard on a couple of aspects that we’ve spoken about with him. I’ve been impressed with his attitude and work-rate. Of course, he’s, how do you say, he’s not the most patient guy! He wants to play every game because he knows that he’ll perform well, so long may it continue, because he’s improved since he’s come here,” concluded Solskjaer.

On the back of a disappointing result against Everton, United will need to bounce back against West Ham as failure to do so could see the team tailspin out of contention in all competitions.

Paul Pogba Peach Pushes united Forward

After Manchester City beat Aston Villa to take top spot, a pearler from Paul Pogba helped Manchester United to overcome an early deficit and reclaim the Premier League lead tonight at Craven Cottage.

Manchester United’s record signing has been much maligned since his return to Old Trafford, with his performances failing to live up to his price tag.

However, the swagger has returned to the Frenchman, who has found his feet under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and is now making the sort of contributions the United faithful had been dreaming of.

United found themselves down 1-0 after just five minutes, when Ademola Lookman sprung the offside trap and calmly slotted the ball past David de Gea and into the net.

Things could have been worse for United, who were played off the pitch by a team fighting relegation.

In midfield the industrious Fred was a constant thorn in Fulham’s side, and his quick thinking and pass to Bruno Fernandes set up Edinson Cavani for a tap in after a costly error from Fulham keeper Alphonse Areola.

In the second half, with the scores tied at 1-1 United were ponderous on the ball and their passing was too slow, and Fulham were able to repel their attacks.

Out of nowhere, Pogba took possession outside the box and curled a screamer past the outstretched hand of Areola.

“It was a hard game. We knew it would be difficult here, they don’t give up, they press, they stay compact behind. We concede a goal and went behind and knew it would be hard and we had to come back. We needed this win and we got it the hard way.”

“I hit it well. I didn’t expect my left foot to be like this. You know, if you don’t try you don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m really glad the ball went in. It was a beautiful goal and a beautiful victory. That’s the most important.”

“I love winning. It’s all about winning. I will always be happy when I win, and I will always be happy when I’m on the pitch. Today we won, so I’m happy. The day we lose I’ll be angry again. This is me,” said Pogba.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was delighted to leave the capital with three points secured, despite the slow start.

“I think we started slow and after their goal I felt we did well. That was what we needed; we needed to wake up. I don’t think we had shaken off the game on Sunday, but after that we did really well, we scored. Poor again [after that], trying to be too direct and to go in behind and the Hollywood passes, then a fantastic goal by Paul and we had some great chances in the second half to finish the game. When it’s only one goal, with the players they’ve put on, it’s always going to be like heart in your mouth.”

“Oh, they’re massive, they are. You know, when you count the points at the end of the season, you look back and say that was a tight game and this was a tight game. It gives so much confidence and a morale boost as well to get three points instead of a draw. Easily towards the end it could have been [a draw], because they’ve created chances, David [De Gea]’s made a fantastic save with his feet but we should have finished the game off before then.”

The manager was pleased with his match-winner, and is excited to see him kicking on this season.

“He’s really come on. He’s fit, he can play in midfield, he can play wide – that’s the key with Paul, getting him match fit and really running fit, and he is at the moment. An early yellow and he still defended really well; he still stood his ground and there was one tackle in the second half I was worried about, [he] could have got the lad. But he played very well.”

Cavani’s equaliser was reminiscent of many of the goals Solskjaer fired in as a player, which pleased his boss.

“That’s a centre-forward’s goal and you’ve got to be there to score. That’s what he does. If you just watch him, if you have a player cam on him, his movement is incredible, fantastic. We’ve just got to get used to using him more. In the second half when he gets his header, what a save by [Alphonse] Areola. So it’s good to have different options up front.”

While United’s attention will now turn to an FA Cup showdown with Liverpool at Old Trafford, the manager is pleased to have regained top spot in the Premier League.

“It’s always going to be talked about when we’re halfway through and you’re top of the league, but we’re not really thinking about this. We’ve just got to go one game at a time and keep everyone healthy and fresh and see where we are. We are getting better, the players are getting better, they’re stronger, more robust – physically, mentally. We’ve seen so many times this season coming back from 1-0 down, so I’m pleased with the progress and very proud of how they’re conducting themselves. At the training ground, the preparations for the games, the staff… fantastic,” concluded Solskjaer.

Fulham v Manchester United Highlights

Paul Pogba Propels United To Premier League Summit

Despite two shambolic decisions, one by VAR, a Paul Pogba volley has secured a 1-0 win for Manchester United at Burnley, and propelled the Old Trafford club to a three point lead at the top of the Premier League ahead of a showdown with Liverpool at Anfield this Sunday.

Things were not looking good for the league-leaders when two VAR decisions inexplicably went against the Red Devils.

First, Edinson Cavani was fouled by Robbie Brady when he was through on goal. Brady was given a yellow card, and VAR was called into action to see if it should have been changed to a red for denying a goal scoring opportunity. What should have been a nailed-on sending off was bizarrely overturned, with Luke Shaw then booked for a foul on Johann Gudmundsson earlier in the build up.

Then moments later United should have been a goal ahead, as captain Harry Maguire climbed high for a stunning headed goal, only to see it ruled out for an apparent push on Erik Pieters. For reasons only referee Kevin Friend knows, the decision was not referred to VAR, leaving the United bench furious.

However, cometh the moment cometh the man, with Paul Pogba showing in the 71st minute why United paid a then-world record fee for the midfielder with a wonderfully taken volley.

Sadly these match-winning moments have been few and far between from the mercurial Frenchman, but with United riding the crest of a wave and Pogba looking in the mood, the scene has been set for a fantastic battle at Anfield.

“We knew if we win we would be top of the league when we play Liverpool,” Pogba said. “We have to keep calm, now it is the big moment. We will see what is going to happen.

“It will be a beautiful game for everyone. A big game coming up so let’s get ready for it.”

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was full of praise for his midfield maestro, underlining his importance to the club as the title challenge that won’t be called a title challenge begins.

“I’ve always said Paul is a big player for us,” said Solskjaer. “He is a good character in the dressing room, he is always the one the lads look to and he’s a world champion of course, and I think he’s at his best at the moment.”

“What a brilliant position to be in. We know it’s going to be hard but we’re ready and hungry which is good and we couldn’t have asked for a better time to go there.

“We go there knowing we’re playing the best team by a mile in the country in the last year and a half. We’re looking forward to it and it’s a great test of where we’re at against a good team.

“Of course we know we’re going to the champions, they’ve had an unbelievable three-and-a-half seasons so we know that’s going to be a difficult game for us but we’re ready for it.”

While much has been made of United’s improvement this season, and the fact they are still in the hunt in the Premier League for the first time since 2013, for a club of their stature and pedigree it is time to make a statement and win at Anfield to prove they are back amongst the Premier League elite.

Manchester United Flop Paul pogba Set For Winter Exit

Manchester United flop Paul Pogba is set to leave Manchester United in January, according to his agent Mino Raiola, who claims his client needs ‘a change of scenery’ and says the midfielders United career is over.

One could be forgiven for believing the new scenery is the inside of a treatment room in Barcelona or Madrid, or perhaps the bench in Turin, given the £89.3 million signings lack of form and fitness since his return to Old Trafford.

Agent Statement

While United triggered the World-Cup winner’s contract extension, tying him to the club until 2022, Raiola stated it would be better for all involved if Pogba were to be sold in the upcoming transfer window.

Riola has had his say on one of his star players

“It’s over between Manchester United and Pogba.

“No point beating around the bush, it’s better to speak clearly, look forward and not waste time looking for people to blame: Paul is unhappy at Manchester United.

“He is unable to express himself as is expected from him. He needs a change of club; a change of scenery.

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“He has a contract which runs out in a year and a half — in the summer of 2022 — but I believe the best solution for everyone is that he leaves in the next transfer window.

“Otherwise, United know well the risk of losing him for nothing, given at the moment the player has no intention of extending his contract. If someone doesn’t understand this, they understand little or nothing about football.

“In any case, they can all blame me if next summer Paul leaves,” said Raiola.

But where will he go?

With United previously handing out inflated contracts to hold onto players who wanted to leave, one hopes Woodward and the Glazers hold firm in this instance, and do indeed part ways with the midfielder who has performed better on Instagram than he has the pitch.

Could Pogba return to Juve?

In recent seasons, Real Madrid and Juventus have shown interest in signing Pogba, however, the coronavirus crisis has thrown football into turmoil.

In his first spell at Juventus, and with the French national team, Pogba has shown he is more the icing on the cake, rather than the eggs and flour that hold it together.

With Real Madrid eyeing Kylian Mbappe and Juventus approaching a rebuild, it remains to be seen if the two powerhouses can afford such luxury at a time when transfer budgets are better spent on bread and water.