France captain Hugo Lloris has revealed that Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has grown into a big character in the French national team’s dressing room.
The French are into the quarter-final stage of the World Cup for a second consecutive time and this year’s selection of players is considered as one of the youngest in the tournament. Les Blues dispatched Argentina in the previous round with youngster Kylian Kbappe and Pogba playing key roles in the team’s success.
Lloris, a domestic rival of Pogba in the Premier League extols the virtue of Pogba at Thursday’s pre-match press conference ahead of their clash with Uruguay on Friday.
“Paul is maturing fast, he has grown in experience with Juve and now at Man Utd. He is a true leader and has grown into that key figure in the dressing room for us,” said Lloris
“He is a winner. He wants to win always and of course big competitions are there to reveal the characters of players which is same with Paul.”
Uruguay have earned a reputation as one of the most feared teams in the tournament especially after their manner of victory over Portugal in the last round. The Tottenham goalkeeper is fully aware of the threat the Celeste pose and enumerates what his team have to do to scale through.
“It will come out to the little details. I don’t think we should get ahead of ourselves. We should not give them free kick advantage close to our box because they are very good in that and in crosses.
“We have to also take responsibility when we go close to their penalty box. While they have their own characteristics, we also have to give it our best. I think it will be a different match to the one against Argentina and we must be prepared for it.”
Many of the French football fans have touted Didier Deschamps’s wards to reach the semi finals of the competition for the first time in twelve years. Lloris appreciates their support but sounds a note of caution because of the quality of their opposition.
“We want to go step by step. We feel the enthusiasm of our supporters but we want to play in the game on Friday with utmost focus. Uruguay are a strong team and we have to be present in all facets of the game,” he added.
Friday’s game is the first of four quarter final matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia and will hold at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium starting from 5pm local time (3pm in Nigeria).
The French side will be without midfielder Blaise Matuidi who is suspended for accumulation of cards while star man Edinson Cavani is doubtful for Uruguay – the PSG striker was seen training alone during the team’s final training session on Thursday.
Fisayo Dairo, reporting from Nizhny Novgorod.