Griezmann became a giant player again

Antoine Griezmann, who has been replaced as a midfielder since the start of the 2022 World Cup, has had a dazzling tournament. In five games and ahead of the semi-final against Morocco this Wednesday (20:00), the now best passer in the Blues’ history has proved to all his doubters that he is still a player after an extremely complicated period.

The list of Didier Deschamps was announced on November 9. France’s coach has announced his squad for the 2022 World Cup, and one sector is getting all the attention: midfield. While the Blues have lost two pillars of 2018 in midfield with the packages of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, the players called upon to play in this position (Tchouaméni, Rabiot, Fofana, Guendouzi, Camavinga, Veretout) are not reassuring. Observers are not, and almost all fans of the French team are very cautious. Without doubting that the solution is finally one step higher.

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Who would have thought then that the player who would shine for the French midfielder in Qatar was actually a striker capable of back-to-back seasons with 40 goals in all competitions (2015-2016 with Atlético de Madrid) and the current third-highest scorer in history. The French team with 42 goals? The speculation of seeing Antoine Griezmann take up a position as a relay midfielder quickly came to the table, and even Didier Deschamps himself was questioned as his famous list was revealed. But at that time, no one thought that the former Real Sociedad player could wear this suit so successfully.

One of the keys to Deschamps’ system

Since the start of the Qatar World Cup, Antoine Griezmann has shone in a position he never experienced in an official match before the tournament began. Griezmann, well supported by the solid Aurélien Tchouaméni and Adrien Rabiot in the 4-3-3 set up by the French squad, is one of the key elements in the success of the Blues, who qualified for the semi-finals of this world. Cup (with Morocco on Tuesday at 20:00). Valuable in his defensive efforts (4.5 possessions per game in the first four matches) and still impressive with his attacking vision, the 2016 and 2018 Ballon d’Or third placer brings balance and creativity to Didier Deschamps’ formation. Despite the far back position, the number 7 remains the master of the Blues and the stats (before the game against England) prove it: 2.67 expected assists, 48 ​​assists per game, 75.3% last 30m success rate,

Petit: “For three years I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders”

“He is very valuable in the game, in the balance. He is a guy who likes to run, is always on the move, reads his opponents and teammates very well. (…) He plays with touch. The ball, he does not make life difficult and his game is lickable. High the level is to play simple football and it makes the game of the blues constantly easier, said Emmanuel Petit of RMC, emphasizing that the blues won in the round of 16. Poland (3-1). I have always defended Griezmann, even when it was difficult at Barça or Atlético. Time for him We should have given it. For three years, we had the impression that “he was carrying the weight of the world. on his shoulders and said that no matter what he does, he will always be insulted and criticized. He needed to be given time to find himself,” added the 1998 world champion.

Seeing Griezmann find a smile on the football field is not a joke in terms of recent months, if not years, it is very complicated for the Frenchman. Since the Blues’ coronation in Russia four years ago, Maconnais has had to digest the experience he missed out on at Barça, where he never won and was unable to restore his reputation with Atlético de Madrid. Grizou was so dreamy in Catalonia that he was even kept in the room by the leaders of the Blaugrana. “You left a great memory by giving your whole soul to Palau (Barça’s basketball hall, editor’s note) but, on the lawn, unfortunately, I don’t think so much…” The Barça board had left Miguel Camps, one of the confidants of president Joan Laporta.

Substitute at Atletico at the start of the season… and status in Blue in question

At the start of the 2022-2023 season, Griezmann’s ordeal continued. The Frenchman has had to make do with substitute status and less than 30 minutes per game at the center of an economic dispute between Barça, where he still belongs, and Atletico de Madrid, which he is on loan at. While the most optimistic would prefer to tell themselves that this situation would allow him to arrive in Qatar fresh, others (the more obvious?) could only be concerned at the prospect of seeing one of the Blues managers arrive in Qatar with a lack of rhythm. Finally, Barça and Atlético finally reached an agreement, and from the beginning of October, Griezmann was able to find a starting place in Diego Simeone’s eleven. Just to come to the world championship with full confidence.

Taking over on the eve of the World Cup, he reassured those who believed that Griezmann was past his best and that his Blue status was increasingly fragile after so many years of dedicated service. “Great players have to confirm their status with their performances. The lights are red for Griezmann there, Jerome Rothen lamented in June as the Colchoneros player struggled to make an impact on the Blues’ matches. He is showing that he is tired and can no longer keep his head above water. It is stronger with Nkunku. If he is the player of the day, yes, there will be a problem in the World Cup.” Since then, Nkunku has been nursing a ligament injury in his left knee and Griezmann’s performance in Qatar has already made people forget the absence of the Leipzig striker, who has scored 17 goals in all competitions since the start of the season.

Although he has not scored a goal in the French team for more than a year and the Blues’ qualification against Kazakhstan in November 2021 (8-0), Griezmann, who missed the equalizer after extra time against Tunisia (1-0), still uses the Qatar World Cup to improve his statistics did The Colchoneros player, who also set up Tchouaméni’s first goal against the Three Lions by heading Olivier Giroud to give the Blues victory against England last Saturday, became France’s all-time best passer with 28 disposals in Blue.

In addition to being indispensable on the field, Griezmann is also important in team life. Since his debut in 2014 as Rooster, he has always been praised for his good humor and ability to set the mood. Accepting shadow work on the green box after Euro 2021, where he struggled to share the limelight with Kylian Mbappé and Karim Benzema, has in no way diminished his influence in the dressing room.

At halftime of the match against England, and when he was not used to it, Griezmann specifically voted to strengthen his teammates. A slightly more common scene: at the end of the match, he was one of the most heard Gala songs, the Blues anthem “Freed from Desire”, with the sound system in hand. The whole country is hoping to see him fire up this legendary hit twice more in this World Cup.

Felix Gabori RMC Sport journalist

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