Paul Pogba said Thursday France remembers well what happened two years ago in the final of Euro 2016, and he is determined history will not repeat in Russia.
One day after Croatia defeated England to book a place with Les Blues in the World Cup final, Manchester United's Pogba spoke about how he and his teammates took Portugal and the moment lightly in the European Championships final while pledging the same would not happen in Moscow on Sunday.
(Pogba, right, during the semifinal against Belgium)
"We have come so far not to let go now," said the 25-year-old. "I know the taste of a defeat in the final, and it's really not good, very bitter."
"At the Euro in 2016, our mentality was not the same. We thought it was already done after we beat Germany, that was the final and not the next one against Portugal."
Playing at home, France came into the Euro 2016 final having topped their group with a two-win, one draw record. They then tore through the knockout phase, beating the Republic of Ireland 2-1, demolishing England's conquerors Iceland 5-2 and then emerging victorious over rivals Germany 2-0 in the semifinal.
The final went to extra-time after finishing goalless through 90 minutes, a 109th-minute score by Portugal substitute Eder the winner.
Pogba said France will not let an opportunity like that slip again.
"We are all aware and focused not to repeat the same mistake. We will give everything to bring this cup home.
"No one wants to taste defeat in the final...We really want to finish well, with a smile and make France explode, jump, scream."
Part of staying ready requires France to remain humble and wary of what Croatia can do, especially after they demonstrated against England their incredible fortitude, said Pogba.
(Croatia players celebrate after defeating England 2-1 in their semifinal)
Croatia entered their semifinal having gone the full distance, to extra-time and penalties, in their first two knockout matches. Against England, they needed an additional 30 minutes to get the 2-1 win.
"The Croatians had a very tough match against England, they did not give up, and they came back to win," said Pogba. "They are very strong mentally, they will have played 90 minutes longer than us, but they are very determined."
"We are nothing. We have not done anything yet...We will analyze their game from yesterday and make sure to counter their best players and their attacking plans."
"But the most important thing is to win the game. I have learned that a final is not played, it is won."