Payet and Pogba have points to prove for France at Euro 2016
Lee Gormley | March 22, 2016
Payet and Pogba possess points to prove
With 16 years having passed since France’s last major international glory at Euro 2000 in Belgium and the Netherlands, much is expected of Didier Deschamps’ host nation this summer, with Les Bleus boasting a truly talented roster for their latest attempts at success.
This year also marks a decade on from Zinedine Zidane and co’s agonisingly failed efforts at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, as they were cruelly denied on penalties to a galvanised Italian outfit, but hopes are high once again with such esteemed names available to Deschamps.
Going into the tournament on home soil, the golden boy of French football, Paul Pogba, carries the expectations and dreams of a nation on his still very young shoulders and, after rising to prominence in Turin with Juventus, he has plenty to prove in the coming months.
Alongside the promising Old Lady midfield maestro is West Ham United’s Dimitri Payet, who has come in from the dark to take a deserved place in this French roster, despite having looked set to be exiled by his national boss, and he too has motivation for a country which is 11/4 with Coral for home supremacy at Euro 2016.
Pogba follows greats like Zidane
France ruled the European Championships for the first time in 1984 on home turf, then triumphed again 16 years later, potentially a good omen for those wishful thinkers going into the 2016 showcase event another 16 years on from Euro 2000.
It was the now tainted Michel Platini who guided his nation to success in their maiden continent coup, rallying the French to victory with a tournament best of nine goals, their first ever major honour.
During the first year of the new Millennium, following 1998 World Cup heroics, it was former Real Madrid ace Zidane’s turn to inspire, earning player of the tournament with his majestic attacking displays, while frontman David Trezeguet cemented silverware with his famous Golden Goal in the final against Italy.
Now, the burden of being ‘main man’ falls upon the young but strong shoulders of Europe’s hottest talent, Pogba. Born in Lagny-sur-Marne, in the eastern suburbs of capital city Paris, the 23-year-old will enter proceedings with that tag of ‘key player’, despite having acquired relatively few caps to date.
Although, the Manchester United academy product has already proved he has the self-belief and attributes capable of leading France to success, after starring in three successive Serie A title wins, a Coppa Italia triumph and a Champions League runners-up campaign. France’s footballing prince is now ready to take his mantle as king with Euro 2016 heroics in front of an adoring home crowd.
Golden boy Pogba can enjoy huge success
Since departing Old Trafford, Pogba has simply gone from strength to strength, and the 2013 Golden Boy winner could be set to follow in the footsteps of many past starlets to have led their countries to the pinnacle of international football.
In 1998, ‘the Phenomenon’ Ronaldo took to the 1998 World Cup as arguably the best player on the planet, firing in four goals and making three assists en route to Brazil’s appearance in the final, before suffering an untimely fit and seeing his team downed by France.
Similarly to Platini in 1984, Zidane in 2000 and Ronaldo during that 1998 term, Pogba can take charge of things, possessing the necessary drive and talent that could see him fulfil the potential which has already been showcased at club level, as he enters Euro 2016 to prove his worth as one of Europe’s finest.
Payet can prove his credentials
France host this summer’s event as the favourites to succeed, while world champions Germany will likely be their main threat at 10/3, with holders Spain (9/2) hoping to bounce back from previous setbacks and Belgium (12/1) out to show why they are ranked number one by FIFA.
The installing of Les Bleus as front-runners stems primarily from their home advantage, having won both the Euros and a World Cup beforehand when playing host, but Deschamps’ incredible squad will strike fear into many rivals.
Having previously looked unlikely of featuring, Hammers playmaker Payet has rightfully earned a spot in those ranks, following a sublime season in the Premier League with Slaven Bilic’s Olympic Stadium-bound side.
Deschamps was previously reluctant to opt for Payet, but the French boss claimed the Hammers attacker’s showings have made it impossible for him to ignore any longer, as he handed the top-flight ace his first call-up in over a year for games against the Dutch and Russia.
“Dimitri made a very good season with great consistency in his performance,” admitted Deschamps. “We see it with West Ham playing the top of the table in England. He scores goals. That’s why he’s here, he comes back.”
Chance to shine for Hammers star
West Ham have enjoyed a brilliant campaign ahead of their switch from long-standing home ground Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium, with that switch set to take place during a summer when their main man could be relishing a key international role at the Euro finals.
The 28-year-old has dazzled this term, reaching double figures for goals across all competitions, and joins the likes of Bayern Munich loan starlet Kingsley Coman, Atletico Madrid attacker Antoine Griezmann and Man Utd talent Anthony Martial as encouraging attacking dangers in the squad.
Against the fallen Dutch, who haplessly failed to reach this summer’s France finals, Hammers star Payet is likely to be given a chance to shine, in a game which he is 2/1 to find the target anytime, while the Russian clash is another opportunity to prove his class on his desired international stage.
Following the previous squad troubles at Euro 2012 and a prolonged period without silverware success, France now possess a promising set-up capable of banishing past demons and prevailing once again. With several stars having plenty to prove as well, this could work to Deschamps’ advantage at what he will hope is a successful Euro 2016 outing.