Socceroos midfielder Massimo Luongo says the pressure is on Manchester United star Paul Pogba going into Australia’s opening World Cup game against France in Kazan.
Luongo, who took time off from club Queens Park Rangers (QPR), looked poised and confident in Kazan on Monday and is full of belief Australia can get a result against the world No.7.
Les Bleus are strong favourites to down the Aussies on Saturday night (8pm AEST) and have firepower from the biggest clubs in world football to help them over the line.
Luongo paid his respects to Pogba and hinted there would be a lot of scrutiny on the United midfielder who is reportedly in the Premier League’s top three earners.
“His price tag says how good of a player he is, the pressure is always on him because of how much he costs,” Luongo said on Monday.
“Maybe he’s not doing enough, but as a midfielder, if a lot of midfielders can do half the things he does, then I think they’re a pretty good player.
“A lot of eyes will be on him, I think he’s capable of doing something special. (But) it could be a different tournament for certain people.”
Luongo also laughed off suggestions the Socceroos would be playing for a draw.
“At this level, everyone is even, the win is there for the taking,” he said.
“Individually, yeah, they’ve got some big, world class players especially in midfield.
“As I said, we’ve been working on a way to play as a team and the manager’s experience is doing it with a really good team, not individuals.
“It’s up for the taking… we’ve got to make sure we’re on, more than 100% because of their individual talents.
“If we’re caught in a situation one v one - maybe against a Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann or Pogba - then we’ve got to pull something out of the bag.
“We can’t rely on the team to back us up. When the moment is there, we rise up to the challenge and come up on top.”
Luongo also said a big talking point between the squad and Bert van Marwijk was to take the chances when they arise.
Australia are coming off a 4-0 win over Czech Republic and a 2-1 win over Hungary. And the 25-year-old is confident the green and gold will create chances based on their practice games.
“The way we’re playing, the way we win the ball back in good areas, we’re going to transition quickly,” he said.
“We’ve been working a lot on our transition and hurting them on the counter and just exploiting the space in behind and down the flanks.
“We have been a bit more defensive-minded in all four games and we’ve come out as a better team throughout.That’s just the way we’ve set up to win the game and we’re going to play that way and hopefully hurt them on the counter or in transition.”