The absence of Karim Benzema at Euro 2016 had propelled Antoine Griezmann as the leader of the Blues attack. Five years later, what influence can the return of “KB9” have on the game and the place of the French number 7 in this Euro? The preparatory meetings, against Wales (June 2 in Nice) and Bulgaria (June 8 in Saint-Denis), will provide part of the answer. Even if, for the conclusions, it will be good to wait until July 11, the day of the European grand final.
Since the officialization of Benzema’s presence in this group, all fantasies are allowed. First, the Griezmann-Mbappé-Benzema trio, or even a quartet that could be completed by Kingsley Coman. “We have the best attack and the best team in the world,” proclaimed last Friday at a press conference. But in this association, the name Griezmann seems less to attract the eye, less fuel the discussions. Surprising given the importance of the Barça striker in Didier Deschamps’ system.
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The event dates from June 13, 2017. Against England at the Stade de France (3-2), Griezmann remains on the sidelines, watching his friends Ousmane Dembélé and Samuel Umtiti outclass the English. Since then, the left-hander has not missed a single game for the Blues, taking part in the 46 outings of the Deschamps team (41 starts, 5 entries into play). At the small game of the first names checked on the scoresheet, Griezmann is placed very high in the list. Except injury, there is no reason that he does not start the Euro matches.
However, the coach is aware that work must be done with the offensive elements. “There are compensations to be made, he slipped in an interview with RTL this week. But it is not giving everything to one to take away from the other… It is not a problem to have several leaders. We’re not going to talk only about Antoine because I have eight offensive players so there are associations that can be different, at the start of the match, during the match, with versatile players. In March, the staff pointed to a certain offensive ineffectiveness. Also one of the reasons for Benzema’s comeback.
“He is happy to be part of a super seductive attack”
After a mixed season at Barça, Griezmann displays the biggest smiles since his arrival at Clairefontaine, not hesitating to sleep at the first opportunity in training. On his social networks, he highlights his joy at finding the Real Madrid striker, whom he attended sparingly from 2014 to 2019 during his Atlético era. On Instagram, Griezmann even added a snapshot of the trio everyone expected with Mbappé and Benzema. “I know that the truth of social networks is not always that of the real. But he is happy to be part of a super seductive attack, ”says a relative of the group.
In October 2015, during Benzema’s last appearance, the technical complicity between the two attackers came to light after 16 joint selections. Against Armenia (4-0), Griezmann offered a pass to Benzema. The reverse was also true. A year later, while the absence of a player he describes as a “friend” lasts, the native of Mâcon assured Le Figaro: “He’s a great player. On the ground, we found ourselves easily. When I played on the right, I liked to get in the axis to look for it. It was really a pleasure to play with him. “
He knows how to adapt
Six years later, what is it? In the France team, no one has any doubts about Griezmann’s ability to adapt to any teammate. The thirty-something also arrives reinforced by the Lionel Messi experience. “It has not always been fluid between the two, everyone knows it, we recall in those around Barça. But Griezmann has proven that he is a quality player, who knows how to step aside if necessary and who gives a lot for the group. “In a more serene environment than in Catalonia, there is therefore no reason for this to change.
Barça remains in the back of his mind for another reason: the future. There is no indication to date that the Blaugrana club want to sell Griezmann this summer. But with the probable arrivals of Kun Agüero or Memphis Depay, the Barcelona attack is blocked. “Grizi” and / or Dembélé could serve as a fuse. While waiting to learn more, Griezmann continues to walk his smile on the paths of Clairefontaine. A place where, it should be remembered, a second star of the world champion throne at the entrance largely thanks to him.