Antoine Griezmann, “The Little Prince” lights up the World Cup in France

Beneath the steerage of coach Didier Deschamps, Frenchman Antoine Griezmann has witnessed a outstanding transformation from a free-scoring midfielder to a central midfielder, his versatile abilities now centered on breaking apart opposition performs and permitting teammates to attain. The result of Sunday’s World Cup remaining will possible hinge on his duel with Argentine Leo Messi.

2022 FIFA World Cup © FMM Graphics studio France’s most prolific striker Till not too long ago, Griezmann stopped scoring for Les Bleus. Not that his coach would care. By each different metric, ‘Grizou”s contribution to the crew has grown exponentially whilst he drifts huge of the opposition purpose, reworking into Maestro Deschamps’ finely tuned orchestra – and Les Bleus’ best participant.

Griezmann, 31, was equally acknowledged, telling a information convention in Qatar that he was “not anxious” about scoring targets. “I feel the crew wants me extra in the midst of the motion,” he added. “We want that stability.”

The distinctive Frenchman went from shining star to tireless playmaker – and breaker – largely out of necessity after the Blues suffered a sequence of accidents previous to the event. The lack of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante – the cornerstones of France’s World Cup-winning midfield 4 years in the past – has compelled Deschamps to plot a brand new construction based mostly on the flexibility of Griezmann.

High scorer for France at Euro 2016 and – collectively with Kylian Mbappe – the 2018 World Cup, Griezmann is now as a lot a goal-creator as he’s a tireless defender. In Qatar, he labored in a three-man midfield, recovering balls and presenting them to attackers Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele.

>> Lloris, Varane, Griezmann, Giroud: quartet of veterans lead France’s World Cup squad

The selflessteam participant, Griezmann, was already spectacular earlier than edging England within the quarter-finals, when he received possession and made tactical errors earlier than serving up the winner from Giroud. He was equally decisive within the semi-final in opposition to Morocco, usually aiding in breaking possession when France had been underneath strain.

All through the event, he crammed in for lots of the crew’s absentees, which additionally included the injured Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema. Les Bleus’ hopes of profitable back-to-back World Cup titles on Sunday will rely largely on his capacity to frustrate Argentina’s Messi whereas firing the ball to the likes of Mbappe.

“He does the job of Pogba, Kante and Benzema,” former Argentina defender Pablo Zabaleta informed AFP earlier than Sunday’s remaining. “He’s distinctive in each manner,” Luis Fernandez, the 1984 European Champion, added. “It is in all places, it is efficient and it has its personal twist.”

A classy Spain immigrant and at all times his timing excellent, Griezmann’s contact is a product of his soccer schooling in Spain, the place he was capable of thrive as a teen after the French academies – then obsessive about a tall, muscular physique of the Patrick Vieira sort – thought-about him. very good. The younger Frenchman inherited the imaginative and prescient and good sport of Spain’s greatest footballers, whereas additionally adopting the rigorous work ethic, self-discipline and tactical thoughts that characterizes his membership, Atlético de Madrid.

Reflecting on his affinity for Spanish soccer, Griezmann pressured the significance given to the group over the person. He informed Le Monde in 2016: “In France, individuals typically play in opposition to one another, hoping to take their teammates’ place on the sphere. In Spain, substitute or not, everybody performs collectively. The crew comes first.”

Antoine Griezmann has achieved a formidable tally of 73 consecutive caps for the French nationwide crew. © Adrian Dennis, AFP Griezmann’s slender construct and boyish appears have earned him the nickname “The Little Prince”. However he’s uniquely centered in terms of executing the agame plan – and is arguably Deschamps’ indispensable participant, having not missed a match for France since June 2017.

With Sunday’s remaining, Griezmann may have amassed a staggering tally of 74 consecutive caps for France – 30 greater than the earlier report set by Vieira. He broke quite a few different French information, surpassing the nice Zinedine Zidane with 28 assists for France.

Such figures clarify why Deschamps has not misplaced religion within the La Liga sport, as he struggled earlier this season at Atlético after getting back from an sad spell with La Liga rivals Barcelona – the place he struggled in Messi’s shadow. At first, Atlético solely used him for half-hour per sport to keep away from paying a bonus to Barcelona. The dispute was ultimately resolved when the participant accepted a big wage minimize.

Since then, Griezmann has regained the serenity and indifference that characterizes Les Bleus underneath Deschamps, permitting the French to withstand strain from their opponents with out ever slipping away. As at all times, he raised his sport on the World Cup, the most important stage in soccer.

“When he performs for France, he crosses himself, he bends backwards,” mentioned former Senegalese striker El Hadji Diouf, turning into “one other participant.”

The French ‘Little Prince’ has additionally matured off the sphere, turning into extra outspoken whereas honing his public picture. In 2020, he tweeted “The ache of France” after a black man caught on digicam was brutally crushed by police. A month later, he minimize off a profitable promoting contract with China’s Huawei over “sturdy suspicions” concerning the firm’s involvement in surveillance of Uyghur Muslims.

Whereas others on the French crew prevented answering questions on Qatar’s human rights report, Griezmann reiterated his help for the LGBTQ trigger throughout the event. When requested throughout a press convention if he had any considerations about taking part within the World Cup, he replied, “Sure and no.”

“Wherever I’m on this planet, they (LGBTp Folks) know they are going to at all times have my help,” he mentioned. “However when my nation invitations me to play a contest, I come proudly.”

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