From our Special Envoy in Doha,
Good luck to Vegedream if the Blues go to the end of this World Cup. Because this time the people will not be satisfied with a vulgar (and borderline insulting) “Antoine Griezmann, penalty, we are enseeeeeeemble! “. That would be a bit short, young man, and much more needs to be said about it. “Antoine Griezmann, the tackles, the gnac, the folds, the dice passes, the patties, the slaughter, we are together”, there in agreement. It’s less sexy musically, perhaps, but so much more in line with what Atlético de Madrid has shown since the start of this World Cup.
We say “the player” because we no longer know if we can still speak of an attacker. If he still sails sometimes high on the ground, it is now more common to cross his noggin in the middle grounds, to do the dirty work for which he seems to take an extraordinary footing. Its heatmap speaks for itself. Yellow here, red there, Griezmann puts it everywhere on the ground and draws an Art Deco fresco that would be all the rage at the MoMA in New York.
Lloris evokes a “happy Antoine”
We are disappointed not to have seen him go into the mixed zone after the victory against Denmark, during which he was undoubtedly the best Blue on the lawn with Mbappé and Upamecano. It doesn’t matter, his teammates talk about it so well. In a pre-match press conference on Friday, Hugo Lloris insisted on underlining his teammate’s regained joie de vivre, in addition to his ability to leave his life on the pitch for his friends. “I especially see a happy Antoine, with a smile, available on the pitch, who makes the effort offensively and defensively. It’s true that being at the heart of the game allows him to connect with each other, that’s where he expresses himself best. He is a team player, a player who highlights his teammates. Now it was only a first game and we have to give continuity to our performance”.
Twenty-four hours later, we can say it without fear of being wrong, it’s a second test passed with flying colors for the Swiss-Uruguayan knife of Didier Deschamps. Refocused in the heart of the game, often in a role of right axial alongside Tchouaméni and Rabiot, Grizi makes an express adaptation in a role that is not his at the base. Even if, as Deschamps had pointed out to TF1 the evening of the announcement of the list, “Antoine is an offensive player but (…) he comes back very low, sometimes too much for my taste. In his club too, sometimes he finds himself in a triangle in the middle, it does not pose a problem for him. »
This was also the opinion of Jules Koundé in the mixed zone of the stadium with 974 containers on the Doha seafront: “It’s not especially a new role for him in the sense that he’s someone who has a habit of covering a lot of space on the ground. He has a large volume of play and a great ability to defend but also to make others play. It’s the Antoine we know and who is in good shape, we hope he will continue like this. “For Tchouaméni, the last Blue to pass in front of us on Saturday evening, Griezmann “usually plays a little higher but at the start of the competition he helps me and Adri a lot”. “We are trying to recover balls, to be compact, and for the moment it is not going too badly,” he adds.
Griezmann, for the love of the Blues
Better than we could have hoped for, to be completely honest with you. Not that we never doubted for a moment the ability of the Macônnais to turn into the Hulk once the blue jersey was on his back, but still. The guy has been through more hardships in the past two years than some footballers will experience throughout their careers. Between his failed move to Barça and a complicated return to Atlético (first with the supporters, then with the subtleties linked to his contractual clause), he was not crazy to think that we might never find the Griezmann of the great era. But we have to believe that the soft cocoon of selection has the craziest healing virtues for it. Asked at the start of the World Cup, Jérôme Rothen also doubted the rebound ability of a player losing confidence and whom he considered “downgraded” compared to the other leaders of the France team.
“I am very demanding with him because a few years ago we were talking about him as a possible Ballon d’Or, then reminded us of the RMC consultant. In the importance he has in the game of the France team, in the preferential circuits, he has somewhat fallen into line. At Euro 2016 he was excellent, but even in 2018 in the team game he was not as strong as in the past. From 2018, we retain Pogba, we retain Kanté, we retain Mbappé before retaining Antoine Griezmann. »
If the now ex-striker continues to provide us with similar services in the rest of the competition, sure that the former Parisian will gladly make amends. In the meantime, it is the coach who is rubbing his hands. Without going so far as to speak of a find – Grizou had already been playing lower on the ground for a while in a club – Deschamps was able to find the right collective animation from the start of the World Cup and he owes it in large part to his number 7. probably asks him different things, but there is no sacrifice on his part, he is so generous, he confided in conf on Saturday evening. He takes pleasure in the construction, when he touches the ball. He will score fewer goals, because there are many people up front, but he is so useful, intelligent, to compensate and allow the team to have a good balance while having a lot of attacking players. “We understood it well, the new box-to-box of the Blues is the keystone of this collective both solid behind and ambitious in front. It remains to be seen whether he will have the rods and the lungs to hold out over time. But when you love, you don’t count.