France defeated Croatia 4-2 in Moscow today to win the 2018 World Cup. It was a classic final to cap off a classic tournament, and the two best teams at the World Cup gave us the spectacle we wanted. VAR, a dodgy penalty, brilliant individual efforts, pitch invaders - this match had everything.
But this post isn’t a tactical analysis about where the match was won, or a clear-eyed look at how the conservative tactics of Didier Deschamps were both frustrating and ultimately rewarding, or an appreciation of the utter footballing genius of Luka Modrić. This post is about one thing and one thing only.
OUR PAUL POGBA IS A WORLD CHAMPION.
Pogba scored the third — and winning — goal for Les Bleus. He started the move with a brilliant, raking, volleyed pass out to Kylian Mbappé, before finishing it himself with a sweet shot (at the second attempt, with the other foot) that found the corner of the net.
What a pass. What a goal. What a player. Our player.
Pogba is only the fourth Manchester United player to win the World Cup, after Sir Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles, and John Connelly in 1966, and the first Red to ever score in the final. The United academy graduate was shackled somewhat by Deschamps’ set-up, which deployed him in a deep midfield role. Still, he was quietly excellent throughout the tournament: shielding the back line, intercepting passes, shutting down lanes, driving the ball forward, and passing intelligently to break the lines in every match.
Until the final, that is. Because today, he did all of those understated midfield tasks, and that.
Even though some critics (eat shit, Souness) still refused to recognize Pogba’s obvious quality, United legend Patrice Evra tells it best.