The fact that holders France have advanced to the World Cup final for the second time in a row is in large part due to the goals scored by Kylian Mbappe and in large part due to the extraordinary performances of Antoine Griezmann.
The 31-year-old’s transformation has symbolized more than anything else the management style of Didier Deschamps, the France coach. Deschamps reimagined Griezmann’s role in part out of necessity after the team was plagued by injuries before the tournament.
Deschamps had to come up with a new solution in that area of the pitch because he lost Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, France’s starting midfield pairing in their triumphant campaign four years ago. He turned to Griezmann.
Griezmann is now France’s midfield playmaker. He was the top scorer at Euro 2016 with six goals, helping hosts France reach the final but losing to Portugal in extra time. Griezmann is also a tireless worker.
The winner of the Ballon d’Or, Karim Benzema, was out because he hurt himself in training in Qatar before a ball was kicked.
According to Pablo Zabaleta, a former defender for Argentina, “he is doing the job of Pogba, Kante, and Karim Benzema.”
If the 2016 team was referred to as the “Griezmann Generation,” Kylian Mbappe’s rise to prominence enabled France to advance to the next level and win the World Cup in 2018.
Over a long time, Griezmann has steadily adjusted his game to turn out to be all the more a helping player for France’s new superstar, however that has not lessened his significance.
He has played in a midfield trio with Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, and Ousmane Dembele in front of him in Qatar, to the right of Aurelien Tchouameni.
Prior to his performance against England in the quarterfinals, Griezmann had already been outstanding. He not only robbed England of possession and committed tactical fouls, but he also moved the ball superbly and provided an excellent assist for Giroud’s goal.
Again, he came to the fore against Morocco in the semi-final, frequently assisting in the breakup of possession when France was under pressure in the second half.
During the tournament, Griezmann, who has made 15 appearances since November of last year and has scored 42 goals for his country, stated, “My role is quite free. I have more options and possibilities with three players in front of me. It’s possible that I’m not as close to the opposing area. I’m not concerned with scoring goals, even though I won’t have 50 shots on goal per game.
Griezmann, better known as “The Little Prince,” has now played 73 games in a row for France, breaking Patrick Vieira’s national record of 44 games in a row set in 1998 when France won the World Cup.
Since June 2017, he has not missed a France game, and it was impossible for Deschamps to lose faith in the player despite his struggles at Atletico Madrid earlier this season.
Griezmann, who was born in Macon near Lyon but has played for every club in Spain throughout his career, had mostly been limited to making substitute appearances for Diego Simeone’s team.
Atletico wanted to avoid paying Barcelona a reported mandatory fee of $42.6 million if he played in a certain number of games.
However, they bought him back permanently in October after negotiating a new contract. Prior to the World Cup, he had started 12 games and scored six goals.
Now, he is repaying Deschamps’ faith in him by making his international debut in 2014 at the age of 22.
I owe him a lot. He was the person who hit me up and we have been together from that point forward,” said the previous Genuine Sociedad player.
I try to do everything in my power to keep his faith in me. I express my appreciation to him in every game and action. I want to do everything in my power to make him happy about his seven.
He must be a serious contender for the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player if he can help France defeat Argentina and win the trophy.
However, his former Barcelona teammate, Lionel Messi, is standing in his way.