Pogba leans left as France gear up for euro 2016 last 16
By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) - France started Euro 2016 with a well-established midfield, but the displays of Paul Pogba and Moussa Sissoko in Sunday's final group game could force coach Didier Deschamps to reshuffle his cards.
Les Bleus qualified for the last 16 as Group A winners after their goalless draw against Switzerland with Pogba producing a scintillating performance in the first half and Sissoko bringing speed and power on the right side of the midfield.
Pogba played on the left in the position he usually occupies at Juventus, taking the spot of Blaise Matuidi who started on the bench.
While coach Didier Deschamps is no tinkerman, he might be tempted to grant Pogba his favoured position.
The 23-yea-old ripped the midfield apart and struck the bar twice in the opening 20 minutes, a sharp contrast with his sparkless performances against Romania and Albania, where he played on the right.
"He started, and concluded the moves. It all started from the left side", said former France international and ex Paris St Germain coach Luis Fernandez.
He faded away in the second half, just like the rest of the team, and shifted back to the right side when Matuidi came on in replacement of Antoine Griezmann.
"I fully trust him," said Deschamps, who expects the very best from Pogba.
"Of course he can do better but he knows I have faith in him. We need Paul at his best."
The question is now whether Pogba's performance on the left is enough for Deschamps to bench Matuidi. Sissoko's display on the right could be the deciding factor.
Sissoko proved to be a great box-to-box player, one of his devastating bursts down the right flank leading to a perfect cross for Dimitri Payet, whose cool volley smashed the crossbar.
Deschamps said that Sissoko had been fielded because he wanted to rest Matuidi as France were already qualified for the last 16 before kickoff.
"When I told him he would start I did not tell him 'it's a gift'," said Deschamps.
"It's not because he started tonight that he won't start again."
The coach now has almost a week to prepare for their last 16 game in Lyon on Sunday against a third-placed team.
"We've got a lot of room for improvement but so do other teams," said Deschamps.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by John Irish)