September 07, 2018
World champions France held 0-0 by Germany and Ireland are thrashed in Cardiff
UEFA Nations League: Paul Pogba discusses future, Gareth Bale enjoys Wales win
It speaks volumes about the quality of the match that the biggest headlines from last night’s clash between Germany and France came from comments made by Paul Pogba.
In an interview with Sky Germany, Pogba was asked about his situation at Old Trafford and his future plans.
“My future is currently in Manchester,” he replied. “I still have a contract, I am playing there at the moment, but who knows what will happen in the next few months.”
Say no more
The Man Utd midfielder was similarly enigmatic when asked about manager Jose Mourinho, who according to the gossip, is increasingly at loggerheads with the Frenchman.
“We have a pure coach-player relationship, that’s right,” said Pogba. “One thing I can assure you, I will always give 100%, no matter which coach. I always give everything for United - I can not say more.”
Reports yesterday suggested that Pogba “will not agitate for a move away from United in January and will remain at the club until at least next summer”.
Bore draw
If those comments from Pogba raised eyebrows, Germany and France’s clash in the Uefa Nations League left viewers yawning.
After the thrills and spills of the World Cup, a tournament won with panache by the French, the 90 minutes at the Allianz Arena, in Munich, were a reminder of how dreary meaningless international friendlies can be. And that’s what in essence the Nations League is.
Uefa can dress it up how they like, but it was evident from the players’ body language that they would rather have been at home with their feet up.
Neither side mustered a shot on goal in the first 20 minutes and despite the fact France fielded the same XI that beat Croatia in the World Cup final (with the exception of Alphonse Areola replacing the injured Hugo Lloris in goal), the champions looked way off the pace.
The second half was marginally better than the first, and Areola was forced into saves by Marco Reus and Matthias Ginter. But it was a match to forget and a dismal start to a tournament that, as England’s Harry Maguire admitted this week, doesn’t really make sense to the players.
Fantastic four
At least there were some goals in the Nations League match between Wales and the Republic of Ireland.
Five to be exact, four of them coming from the Welsh, who gave Ryan Giggs a night to remember in his first competitive match in charge.
Tom Lawrence put Wales ahead on six minutes and Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey made it 3-0 before half-time.
A new regime
Ireland were hopeless, and they didn’t improve in the second period as Connor Roberts made it 4-0 at the Cardiff City Stadium. Shaun Williams did manage to score for the visitors once the Welsh had taken the foot off the gas, but it wasn’t an impressive night for the boys in green.
“We had to put a good performance in, first home game of the new regime,” said Bale. “We wanted to show what we’re capable of and make a statement. We’re looking to win every game and win the group. The manager is trying to stamp his own style on the team. There’s a lot to improve on but there’s a lot to enjoy.”
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