Paul Pogba

Pogba exclusive: Big games like this are why we play

Should he be named in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s starting line-up this evening, Paul Pogba will play the first match in his career against Paris Saint-Germain, the only top-flight team of his home city.

The midfielder admits the Champions League last-16 first leg against the French champions (kick-off 20:00 GMT) will be special on a personal level, but that his only focus is a win to take to the Parc des Princes for the second leg.
 
Pogba is already enjoying the best goalscoring season of his career to date, with his tally up to 13 goals after two strikes in the Reds’ 3-0 Premier League win at Fulham on Saturday, and the World Cup winner is champing at the bit before the much-anticipated match at Old Trafford.
 
“I’m super excited, obviously!”
the midfielder explains in this evening's edition of United Review.
“It’s a top game, we’re playing against a top team and we want to go as far as we can in the Champions League. We play to play for those big cups, big tournaments and against big teams. Obviously it’s not going to be easy, but it is why we play.”
Paul Pogba
Paul delivered an imperious, Man-of-the-Match display at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
Asked if the game means more, due to his upbringing in Lagny-sur-Marne – around 17 miles from the French capital – United’s no.6 confesses:
“It does, but when I was younger I was more Marseille, because of my dad.
 
“But coming from Paris, and playing against your ‘home’ or your first town, it’s my first time, so it’s going to be beautiful! I’m going to have my family around, all my friends. But I hope we win.
 
“There are a lot of French players, and they have top players who have been winning the league for I don’t know how many years. They’re looking to win the Champions League – that’s their goal. The goalkeepers, Alphonse Areola, Gigi [Buffon] – I played with both of them, and Kylian [Mbappe] and [Presnel] Kimpembe. So I’m looking forward to playing against them, but the first thing is to win against them! That’s what I want.”
With star forwards Neymar and Edinson Cavani doubtful for the game due to injuries, much of the media attention has focused on the threat of Kylian Mbappe, who became the youngest player to score in a World Cup final since Pele when he netted against Croatia in Les Bleus’ 4-2 victory in Russia last summer.
 
“What’s so special [about Kylian] is that he’s maybe 20 and plays like he’s 27 - and 27 is when you have a lot of experience,”
explains Pogba.
 
“He understands the game and that is the difference between him and the other young, top talented players. He’s just a machine. You think about Thierry Henry, Ronaldo – he’s this kind of player, who can score goals, is very fast, can dribble, can make assists. He’s a player that it’s hard to block. 
 
“I would say we are lucky that Neymar is not there – it’s unlucky for him, but lucky for us because he’s a player that can change the game by himself as well. Those kinds of players, you don’t really know where or how to block them, because they can create so much space, they can dribble [past] two players, they can score goals. They are all dangerous, so you don’t think about only one player, because it’s always a team. But obviously their attack is the key. So hopefully we’re gonna block them.”
PSG's Kylian Mbappe takes on Joe Gomez of Liverpool.
Pogba was full of praise for the maturity of his 20-year-old compatriot, Mbappe.
While United have not surpassed this stage of the Champions League since 2014, Pogba had the experience of reaching the final with Juventus in 2015, where the Turin outfit lost 3-1 to a Barcelona side featuring current PSG players Neymar and Dani Alves.
 
But Pogba believes United’s strong recent form under Solskjaer makes them dangerous opponents for even the best sides remaining the competition.
 
“Sometimes it’s good to be the outsiders and surprise people,”
he suggests.
“A game is always 90 minutes, and we never give up until the end. They are PSG and we are Manchester United. Let’s see what’s going to happen.”
 
You can read the full interview with Paul Pogba in tonight’s issue of United Review. If you are not attending the match, you can buy a copy via manutd.com/programme.

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