World Cup 2022 – French team: does Antoine Griezmann succeed in his best tournament with the Blues?

After five games and on the brink of a second successive World Cup semi-final, Antoine Griezmann has still not scored a single goal. And you know what? His last performance with the Blues dates from more than a year ago, at a time when the commentary was a bit more sour than today. Well, we could add a star next to this zero and talk about Tunisia again. But that would be a little petty, and in the end it wouldn’t change the case or the story, the big one: Antoine Griezmann succeeds in a very big World Cup in 2022.
On Saturday against England, the tricolor number 7 chained a 72nd selection in a row for the French team, of course an absolute record. And against the English he achieved what he has done best since the Blues set foot in Qatar. In this hybrid midfielder role that fits him like a glove, he clung to the opposing Basques, fought like the devil – how many balls were blocked or scratched? – and allowed his family to maintain this balance, which often seems precarious (especially on Saturdays). Upon arrival, another qualification for the Habs and two assists. The cake and the cherry.

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The first is questionable because he especially had the advantage of giving the ball to Aurélien Tchouaméni, who did 99% of the job on this cannonball. The other, on the other hand, reminded of the midfielder’s fantastic technical palette. His cross from left and left, perfect and passed along the chalk, found the skull of Olivier Giroud.

Talk, little, impact, above all

Five games, three assists, after the successful one for Kylian Mbappé against Denmark, but so much more than that. With Antoine Griezmann, statistics, even remarkable ones, are often secondary. In the autumn of 2022, they are simply redundant, as the Frenchman manages a tournament of XXL quality. It’s simple, the former Real Sociedad player has already been more brilliant. But he had never been so consistent during a WC or an EC.

We will not dwell on 2014, the entrance to the big world. Fast forward to 2016 and the Euro. The start is sluggish against Romania. The hero is someone else, his name is Dimitri Payet. Didier Deschamps sends him along with Paul Pogba on the bench against Albania. He comes on stage a little over twenty minutes from the end and will deliver his people on the gong. What followed was an exponential rise in power, from the second period of Ireland’s round of 16 to a personal breakthrough apotheosis against Germany. 6 goals at the EC, no one had reached these heights since Michel Platini in 1984 (9 goals).

“In England we compare these Blues to Benzema’s Real Madrid”

If the outcome of the 2018 World Cup was happier than Euro 2016, and the crowned team was Antoine Griezmann and Didier Deschamps, the Atlético de Madrid player had also spent some time getting into the rhythm there. His first turn had not been folichon, but his rise to power, very real. Grizou had been there when needed. As always. We fast forward to Euro 2021, where the composition of the trio with Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappé had finally served him. And the Blues too.

Antoine Griezmann’s great strength that he brings to this French team is to have known how to reinvent himself. To have accepted it. Didier Deschamps told him to try something different, for the Blues’ benefit and for his own. And it is possibly the find of the year.

An express felling as a matter of course

If we were to put a slight damper on the observation, we would remember that his first period against Poland was not spectacular. And that the national coach had to reformulate his player: “Antoine spread out a bit, although he was in areas that could be useful. When he returned to his right axis area, he lit up the game, he offered balls to Ousmane and gave balance to the team.” Nothing like that against England for a masterclass in intelligence, with the errors to break the English transitions that come with it.

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“I’m less close to the surface, but I think I play good matches, he explained just before France – Poland. Even if he misses that goal, I don’t want to be a player who shoots 50 times in a game. The team needs me at the heart of the game. I bet on the best positions.” Griezmann has not scored in 14 appearances for the national team, the sort of statistic that would be credited to him at any other time of the year, but is not an issue here.

Among the great players in Blues history, he is undoubtedly the one who has experienced the most spectacular reinventions. He started from a wing to dominate the midfield. “Antoine must have an extraordinary and very high technical playing volume, especially in the pass, praises Guy Stephan. With his generosity, this positioning suits him well. You just have to see his smile.”

Has he ultimately become the major tournament player par excellence? “Perhaps… there is much envy in these battles, he explains. A WC is a short, therefore ‘easy’ tournament. It’s seven games where you have to give everything for the most beautiful shirt in the world.”

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