France dances to the sound of Griezmann

Griezmann drives the ball in the quarterfinal match against England. / EP

World Cup Qatar 2022

Converted by Deschamps as a pivot, the rojiblanco shines in his team

JAVIER ASPRON Special envoy to Doha

France has plenty of reasons to dream of revalidating its champion title. It has Kylian Mbappé, with a fit Olivier Giroud and, now also, with the best known version of Antoine Griezmann. The Atlético player has become one of the most outstanding figures in the World Cup after his two goal assists against England, which make him lead that statistic in the championship, along with Harry Kane and Bruno Fernandes, and who point to him as the best assistant in the history of the French team.

There is a different Griezmann in Qatar than the one who already shone in Russia four years ago. From that first World Cup he left with the cup and four goals. Today’s seeks the same prize with less offensive presence, but multiplied in defensive and creative work. The architect of this change is Didier Deschamps. And it is not something of now. The French coach has spent years betting on the creativity and ingenuity of that organizing Griezmann, free of movement. The plague of injuries in the French midfield, especially relevant that of Paul Pogba, have reinforced him in that belief and have led him to go one step further.

Today the Little Prince plays even further back than in that position of ‘trequartista’ that was guessed in recent times and has become the true engine of his team, the axis on which the entire game is distributed. The result is being unbeatable. Griezmann, who displays a spectacular 94% success rate in passing, is also the league leader in expected assists and key passes. «I know that I am not going to shoot fifty times on goal and I am not obsessed with the goal. The team needs me in the heart of the game », he explained.

“He has everything to play deeper: vision, work rate, touch, energy, intelligence…”, Deschamps explained about the role of his pupil, already with the World Cup underway. His confidence in him is absolute, and it is demonstrated by the 72 consecutive games with the national team that the Macon-born footballer has. Since 2017 he hasn’t missed a date.

His wonderful cross into the area has remained from the last match, which Giroud ended up finishing off for the second goal, a repeated assist in a loop on social networks to praise the state of form and the sensations with which he has arrived at the tournament: «Physically I feel very well, and my head is much better too.”

feels important

Griezmann got used to playing only the second half at the start of the season with Atlético. It was like that until the rojiblanco team reached an agreement with Barcelona for the final pass from him. But not even that atypical situation has conditioned him. His face reflects happiness almost in its purest form. Mate in hand and arms raised, the colchonero celebrated their pass to the semifinals by dancing when the team arrived at the concentration hotel, where they were received with music and confetti. He was the liveliest. He knows it’s important and he celebrates it.

In the last four major tournaments (Euro 2016 and 2020 and World Cups 2018 and 2022), France has scored 45 goals. Griezmann has participated in one way or another in 19 of them (11 goals and 8 assists), which means that he has been involved in 42% of the most important goals for his team.


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