Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Sport | By Patty Hardy

France star Pogba dedicates win to Thai soccer team freed from cave

France star Pogba dedicates win to Thai soccer team freed from cave

The Red Devils" "golden generation' face the losers of England's game with Croatia in Saturday's third-fourth play-off before going home.

Although boss and skipper remain, this is a much-changed France squad - a hearty injection of exceptional young talent meaning only nine members remain from the 23-man squad that contested the European Championship.

The 51-year-old made it his mission to change that and the results have been spectacular, most notably a 3-0 demolition of Argentina in the group stage, although the side has needed penalties to get past Denmark and hosts Russian Federation in the knockout stages. "[France] President Emmanuel Macron came down to see us. We didn't used to be that resilient".

The intervening two years have not always been easy either.

"It's too early to make any assessment for the tournament", he said.

Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera fumbled a shot from Antoine Griezmann as France booked their place in the World Cup semi-finals.

"So we have got to look at the progress we've made and, as the players get more experienced and there are other young players to come through that we think are very exciting as well, then slowly the style of play and threat we pose can evolve even more".

Samuel Umtiti headed in from a corner for the only goal of the game to knock Belgium out, and Martinez said that while he was pleased his team negated France's threat on the counter-attack, his players did not show their usual finesse in front of goal. The difference between defeat and winning was just one dead ball situation. That's how close the game was. I know the taste of losing a final. We gave everything we have got.

France, world champions in 1998 after beating Croatia in the semis, are in their third World Cup final.

LaLiga's president Javier Tebas said: "When the moment is right and everyone is ready, I would like to invite the children and their coach to go to a Liga game".

"Now is the time to make a new, lovely page".

"When (France coach Didier) Deschamps took off (Olivier) Giroud to bring on (Steven) N'Zonzi, Pogba had more freedom, but had freedom not to do silly things".

"I was back in Omis, my home town, 20 years ago".

"It was a tough game, a 50-50 game, I'm sure we'll look back at stuff we could have done better but we worked as hard as we could". We have to appreciate it and we are going to share this happiness with our families.

"So we´re excited about the future but we also want to make the most of the opportunity we have tomorrow".

"With our state of mind we can climb mountains and that is what we have done".

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