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World Cup 2022: England would be unwise to overlook France’s underappreciated hero, Antoine Griezmann

Dec 12, 2022

The sensation was quite familiar to Antoine Griezmann on Saturday when he dons the No. 7 shirt.

Nothing is steadier than his presence for France, even though his club position may have been erratic for a spell. We assume that Griezmann will play for his nation for the 72nd straight match in the World Cup quarter final against England.

He has started each France match during a period of five and a half years, whether it was the World Cup championship game, a qualifying match in Kazakhstan, or a practice match against Bolivia. He has not been hurt, never had a pang or a sigh, and never required a rest. He is France’s whirling dynamo. Just watch him play. He is quick on his feet, constantly moving, and always looking around to see where he can be and how he can influence the game.

Griezmann has also assumed a position that is particularly significant in this World Cup. Few could have predicted that one of the nation’s all-time leading scorers would be the key to reorganizing midfield in a way that would be viable after injuries forced N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba away from the competition and forced France to reconsider their strategy. However, Coach Didier Deschamps has discovered a midfield solution by instructing one of his most reliable players to change his approach.

Griezmann’s role as a central hub has been crucial to France’s tournament strategy, which has needed to gel fast given how their better defensive and midfield groupings have, in some cases, been thrown together. Although it may not draw as much attention as Kylian Mbappe (well, nothing does), it is still important. The lesser-known hero of the defending champions’ march to the round of eight is Griezmann.

This man also enjoys his role as the camp’s go-to jokester, amiable conversationalist, and contributor of significant value both on and off the field. He is one of the world’s pessimists.

He has always tracked back and hunted for the ball to regain possession, even while playing as a forward, so it is not entirely surprising to see him working a little farther from the goal.

His ability to make a difference all across the field is clear from his World Cup performances.

In order to steal the ball in defensive zones, spray passes to keep the ball in midfield, and sprint up field to join surges into the opposition box, he has an inherent knowledge of where to be.

On Sunday in the opening round of the tournament, he produced a midfield masterclass against Poland.

His involvement’s breadth was astonishing. Stunning long and short passes, perilous set-piece deliveries, deft flicks and tricks, darting dribbles, harassing and pressing, and busting a gut to get back to intercept or tackle. Griezmann lofted the ball out of his penalty area to set up France’s third and final goal of the game. A short while later, Mbappe rammed it into the goal.

Since making his debut in March 2014, Griezmann has only missed four of France’s 118 international games (twice out injured, twice as an unused substitute).

He is the best person to understand what it takes to continue competing for his nation.

He has always been versatile enough to play in multiple roles.  In the 2013 to 2014 campaign, he made his France debut as a wing attacker. After a few years, he began to move to the right while still casting spells in the center and even using a central striker.

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