France secured a spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final. Following an impressive 1-0 win over Belgium thanks to a goal from Samuel Umtiti, Les Bleus reached their third WC final in the last 20 years. And now they are just one win away from winning their second title in the country’s history.
There were three Manchester United players invoklved here. Romelu Lukaku and Marouane Fellaini represented Belgium, while Paul Pogba featured for France. How did these players perform during this match? Read on to find out:
Lukaku had a tough game. The Belgian striker was a big part of the team’s wins over Japan and Brazil during the knockout stages. However, this time he just wasn’t able to make a big impact on the game. Lukaku got squared against Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti – possibly the best centre-back pairing on the international stage right now – and as expected, he got shelled.
To make things even more complicated, he extended his scoring drought to three games. He will need to have a huge game during the third-place match if he wants to have any shot at winning the Golden Boot. Lukaku’s final stats indicated just one shot off target. That’s too low for a player that was supossed to be the team’s main reference on the attacking third.
Fellaini was not nearly as influential as he was against Japan. Even though the towering midfielder had an excellent display against The Blue Samurais and looked decent against Brazil, this time he could produce anything even remotely dangerous. Fellaini played as a sort of second striker a bit behind Lukaku, and the opposing defence dealt with him easily.
As such, he was forced to make an impact through the ground, and he wasn’t good; Fellaini missed some easy passes and his touches were quite poor overall. Fellaini left the pitch in the 80th minute and was replaced by Yannick Carrasco. His final stats indicated one shot off target and one key pass, but won only three of the 13 duels where he was engaged. That final stats tells the whole story of how ineffectual Fellaini was.
As opposite to Fellaini and Lukaku, there is no question that Pogba was one of the top performers for France in this game. Even though the former Juventus star had to adapt constantly, he performed admirably in every task he was required. Pogba looked active in midfield and established a good society with N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi in midfield, but at times he was forced to play on a more defensive stance.
Pogba actually thrived defensively, as he annulled Fellaini and won several aerial duels against his Manchester United teammate. He later adapted and played on a more attacking stance in the final minutes. All things considered, Pogba played a great game. And as it has been the trend during the entire World Cup, once again he emerged as one of the team’s best players. Now he will have a golden chance to play for the World Cup title. Pogba finished the game with three key passes, one shot off target, and won 10 out of 17 duels. Without a doubt, he was a truly wrecking force in the middle of the pitch.