Soccer. 2022 World Cup: Antoine Griezmann knows how to do everything (well)

Antoine Griezmann’s rating by the media after his match against Morocco (2-0), Wednesday, animated the social networks, which do not need much to ignite and make an epiphenomenon a fight for history. Should it be given the rating of 6, 7, 8 or 9 after the semi-final of a French team jostled for a good part of the meeting but who will play a second World Cup final in a row after that of 2018?

Antoine Griezmann. (Photo Georgi Licovski/EPA)

Should it be considered that his defensive slaughter and his new leader’s cape in the oven and at the mill, such as N’Golo Kanté, were worth more, on this meeting, than a goal or an assist, even if it is at the origin of the opening of the score? The debates sometimes revolve around details and the quantified assessment of his performance is one of them. One point more, or one less, does not change what the native of Mâcon has become since his first selection in blue on March 5, 2014 and the 115 that followed.

At 31, Antoine Griezmann, the best passer in French history (28) after his magnificent center for Olivier Giroud against England (2-1), in quarters, knows everything (well) to do. As evidenced by his 101 pressings against the Atlas Lions, a record for a French player in a match of World Cup. A statistic all the more remarkable because validated in a more defensive area where it was not necessarily expected in the competition.


Antoine Griezmann is the archetype of reincarnation, an ode to versatility. Left winger during his first World Cup in 2014, in Brazil, he switched to the right during Euro 2016 in France, a competition he finished in support of Olivier Giroud. Leading striker in some friendlies or World Cup qualifiers in 2017, it was like a free electron that he became world champion in Russia.

Over time, Deschamps refocused his colt, who no longer wanted to evolve on one side, where the French coach now favors the speed and impactful profiles offered by Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé. What the former incumbents Dimitri Payet and Antoine Griezmann were not a few years ago.

The first is irregular, absent from the blue lists since October 2018. The second has developed other capacities to last in the national team. In the France team, Griezmann has always met expectations and it is no coincidence that he is playing this Sunday, in the final against Argentina, his 75th match in a row with France.

The South American “garra”

In Qatar, in a role as a midfielder, he flourished in a repositioning acted before the competition by Deschamps to rebalance a private midfield in Doha of his injured executives Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté. Brilliant with his vista, his game vision and his extraordinary technique, Griezmann has deployed a wide range of diverse and varied skills since the start of the World Cup.

TOPSHOT - France's forward #07 Antoine Griezmann fights for the ball with France's defender #05 Jules Kounde during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group D football match between France and Denmark at Stadiu
Antoine Griezmann never balks at defensive efforts. (Photo Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP)

Seeing him redouble his defensive efforts and clear a hot ball in the French area is not a rare image, nor a novelty. In club, with Atlético Madrid and his coach Diego Simeone, who restored his confidence after a laborious passage at FC Barcelona, ​​Griezmann learned the “garra” over time. A South American philosophy especially perceptible in Argentina and Uruguay, a mixture of aggressiveness and love of the game.

“Like when you don’t have that last breath but you always want to give more,” pictured former Celeste striker Diego Forlan a few years ago. “In Mâcon, when he was young, he played midfield, testified his father, Thursday, on BFM. When he grew up, we put him on the attacking side. I’m not surprised, he has three lungs, he runs, he tackles and it’s good for a team, it relieves a team.

Compared to Zidane and Platini

An essential element of Didier Deschamps’ system, Antoine Griezmann is still chasing a goal in this World Cup. But his impact is elsewhere, leader but not barker of a group which is only one step away from winning the World Cup. For a month, Griezmann has been defending, attacking and setting the tone for the French game, like the metronome that he is.

After Wednesday’s semi-final, many were wondering, on the spot, where to place Griezmann compared to the best French players of all time? After passionate discussions, it was acknowledged that it still lacked a masterpiece, the one that will be remembered in thirty years, to reach Michel Platini and Zinédine Zidane. But comparing Griezmann to these legends already shows the beginnings of his own, in the blue jersey.

Antoine Griezmann is also actively involved in the Blues' offensives.
Antoine Griezmann is also actively involved in the Blues’ offensives. (Photo Rolex dela Pena/EPA-EFE)

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Soccer. 2022 World Cup: Antoine Griezmann knows how to do everything (well)

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