Tuesday 11 December 2018

France get 'salt and pepper' ready for Danes

France's Paul Pogba during training. Photo: Reuters
France's Paul Pogba during training. Photo: Reuters

Brian Homewood

Denmark coach Age Hareide's withering assessment of France last month has added "salt, pepper and vinegar" to their World Cup match today, according to his counterpart Didier Deschamps.

Hareide, whose side need one point against already-qualified France to progress from Group C, was quoted by Danish daily newspaper 'Jyllands-Posten' as saying that he did not believe in the French side and wondered whether Paul Pogba thought only about his haircuts.

But, speaking after Deschamps yesterday, Hareide said those remarks had been taken out of context and showered praise on both France and Pogba.

When asked if Hareide's reported comments had added spice to the match, Deschamps told reporters: "Salt, pepper, vinegar... whatever you wish. Anybody can say what they want, anybody can take responsibility in their own words. It's not particularly pleasant," he went on. "My players know very well what the coach said. They can read, they can listen."

Hareide said: "These were things taken out of context. If you read the whole article, you would have seen I was comparing them (France) with the 1998 team which won the World Cup.

"France has a team with so many good individual players. Their defensive line is strong, the midfield is very strong, with Pogba... and what he delivers as a player, you can't really compare with anything in Europe."

Deschamps said he did not believe that the tournament would be Pogba's last World Cup as the player himself suggested on Monday.

"I don't think this will be his last World Cup. Paul is 25 years old and in four years' time he will be 29."

The France manager said he could not judge whether Pogba's attitude had changed during the course of the tournament.

"I always see the same Paul Pogba," he said. "He is not suddenly going to change from being the ugly duckling to being someone very sincere in the space of 15 days.

"He's always like that, he's had to go through some difficult periods. In my own experience of him, he has gained experience. I think he's happy, he's very motivated."

Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane scoffed at suggestions that France might try to engineer an easier last-16 game by not winning the group.

"No, we don't want to start doing calculations and tie knots in our heads," he said.

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