France vs Germany World Cup 2014 preview: Princely Paul Pogba starting to show the winning qualities of Patrick Vieira

The Juventus player got the breakthrough in the win over Nigeria

Brasilia

Last week he was facing calls to be dropped. This week, Paul Pogba is once again being cast in the mould of Patrick Vieira after helping to guide France into the World Cup quarter-finals.

This is the polarising effect the 21-year-old has on anyone who encounters him: either he is a lazy, ill-tempered character incapable of consistency at the highest level, or he is one of the most promising midfield talents to emerge anywhere in the world.

Read more: France 2 Nigeria 0 match report
Player ratings - was Pogba the best player against Nigeria?
Evra is still the weak link for the French

Pogba endured criticism in France after an uninspiring contribution to Les Bleus’ navigation through Group E. He was fortunate only to receive a yellow card for reacting badly to provocation from Wilson Palacios in their opening game against Honduras and was substituted after an hour for his own protection.

After he was subsequently dropped for their 5-2 win over Switzerland, Pogba returned for the goalless draw against Ecuador but found his  decision-making and profligacy in possession condemned by several pundits, including the 1998 World Cup-winning defender Bixente Lizarazu, who claimed Newcastle United’s Moussa Sissoko was a more “efficient” alternative.

 

Pogba’s notoriety in England stems from his refusal to stay at Manchester United, claiming he was “disgusted” by Sir Alex Ferguson’s treatment of him, particularly when opting to play Rafael da Silva and Park Ji-sung as a makeshift central pairing in a Premier League game against Blackburn in late 2011.

Pogba was an unused substitute as United lost  3-2 at Old Trafford and his relationship with Ferguson never recovered as he turned down a new contract and moved to Juventus the next summer on a free transfer.

Paul Pogba celebrates his goal Paul Pogba celebrates his goal  

He has since become a key figure in the Italian side, starting in 33 of Juve’s 38 league games as they won the Serie A title by 17 points last season.

He produced one of his most influential displays yet for France in scoring the opening goal and earning the man-of-the-match award in Monday’s 2-0 win over Nigeria.

“He deserves to be man of the match and to score because he is a very good footballer,” said fellow France midfielder Yohan Cabaye.

“He keeps his confidence even though he has been getting a lot of criticism but he stays relaxed, he knows the team is with him, he showed what he can do on the pitch and it is the best way to give a response to those who criticise him.

“Fortunately for us he is like Vieira. He is very important for the team, dynamic, and we just enjoy playing together with him. That unity is the best way for us to progress as far as we can.”

Patrick Vieira was in the all conquering French squads of 1998 and 2000 Patrick Vieira was in the all conquering French squads of 1998 and 2000  

Vieira, who won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 and 107 caps for France, claimed recently in his Sunday Times column that Pogba “could become one of the best in the world” and that “we have similar power in possession… but in his head he is more attacking than I ever was.”

Amid the contrasting declarations on his game, Pogba insists he is doing his best to focus on the matter at hand: Friday’s quarter-final against Germany at the Maracana.

“I play for the team, for France,” he said. “I’m very happy with the result. I’m very proud, it was one of the biggest evenings of my career but the victory is more important than the goal. Has some of the criticism been too hard? I don’t know. I just try to concentrate on the pitch, to do my work, to do my bit.”

Staying focused is France’s mantra given past controversies and coach Didier Deschamps’ desire to keep expectations at a minimum.

“We can say we are in the last eight and that is good but we have to stay humble and not arrogant,” said Cabaye. “If we start to play more easier and relaxed we are going to be getting back to France straightaway, so we are confident but focused and we want to stay for as long as possible in Brazil.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living