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Pogba points France in right direction

Paul Pogba has captained France to victories against Serbia and Croatia and, ahead of a meeting with Group B rivals England, says his team have aspirations of going all the way.

France midfielder Paul Pogba is hoping to lead his country to the final in Estonia
France midfielder Paul Pogba is hoping to lead his country to the final in Estonia ©Sportsfile

With France already assured of a place in the last four of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship, midfielder Paul Pogba told UEFA.com that he would be lying if he said he was not dreaming of lifting the trophy in the tournament showpiece on 15 July.

Les Bleuets have enjoyed Group B wins against Serbia (3-0) and Croatia (1-0) so far at the finals, with Pogba scoring from the penalty spot in the first encounter, and a draw in their last game against England will seal top spot in the section. Far from being satisfied with that, however, the former Le Havre AC prospect is calling for pre-tournament ambitions to be realised.

"We are all determined to go as far as possible here," he said. "Yes, we are satisfied because we are winning, but in this U19 championship we have one aim: to play in the final."

England defeated France 2-1 at the semi-final stage en route to winning the 2010 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, Pogba on the scoresheet in that Vaduz fixture. Both teams boast players from that game two years ago, but Pogba believes his side have what it takes to earn the required result this time around in Monday's group decider at the Kadriorg Stadium in Tallinn.

"I am confident that we can get a positive result against England and secure first place in the group," he said. "There will more than likely be some changes in our team because our last match against Croatia – when we were lucky to score near the end – was physically demanding.

"We trust in all of those who will come in, because we know this is a squad where anybody can replace anybody. We are a solid bunch and there is no such thing as first and second-string players in this group."

Pogba made seven appearances in all competitions for Manchester United FC last season, while he has now represented his country at U16, U17, U18 and U19 level. With the help of their captain, the 2010 champions reached the finals with a 100% record in the elite round and have yet to concede in Estonia.

"So far, we have demonstrated several positive things as a team," he said. "We can dictate the rhythm of our matches, while it's also true that we have a great defence. We have a very good goalkeeper and a solid back four. They all complement each other to perfection. Until now that has helped us a lot and hopefully that will be the case in the next matches, when we will try not to concede any goals while scoring as many as possible."

France are looking to add to their two U19 titles and with morale high among the squad, Pierre Mankowski's side will be tough to beat. "We have a great time together and when we are not playing a match or in training, we all hang out together and that helps us bond even more," Pogba said. "There is a beautiful park near the hotel where we go for walks. It's a very relaxed atmosphere, ideal for the tournament."