Antoine Griezmann, the shadow of a doubt

Antoine Griezmann, the shadow of a doubt

The interrogation pointed the tip of its nose during the rally in March. It is now on everyone’s lips: how is Antoine Griezmann? The latter scored just one goal in 2022 with Atlético de Madrid, against a Spanish third division club. The Blues striker (106 caps, 42 goals) has not scored for 21 games now, in all competitions, before starting the match against Austria on Friday June 10, in the League of Nations.

In a press conference, the other players of the France team no longer escape questions about their number 7. Then the same refrain begins. “Antoine is always very serene and cheerful. He does not show disappointment or weakness even if we imagine that it is difficult for him not to score“, advanced Adrien Rabiot, in Split, on Tuesday.We feel happy to find the Blues, motivated to play international matches with this desire to win“, assured Hugo Lloris on the eve of the match against Denmark.

One certainty: Griezmann is still just as perky at the idea of ​​​​playing with the Blues. Against Croatia, however, “Grizou” showed a hint of frustration on his missed opportunity in the 88th minute. A smile followed by a grin of disappointment after a missed shot from a tight angle, on which he may not have taken enough time when the Croatian goalkeeper was overwhelmed. The sign, no doubt, of a lack of confidence. Griezmann’s last goal with the Blues dates back to November and the game against Kazakhstan.

His right thigh muscle injury in December and a relapse in January did not help. In addition, the trio he was to form with Kylian Mbappé and Karim Benzema gradually turned into a duo between the attackers of PSG and Real. “Grizou” lost himself in the shadow of his two teammates and is now finding it harder to shine. Nevertheless, he retains a prominent role in the tactical three-defender system, which allows the three attackers to be close to each other.

We are here to set up a collective, a complicity between the players“, explained Guy Stéphan on the eve of the match against Denmark. During the meeting at the Stade de France, Griezmann embraced the responsibility that now seems to fall to him: to pick up between the lines, to dictate the tempo of the meeting and to put the team into orbit. Benzema-Mbappé duo Less finisher, more organizer.

Griezmann nevertheless made a pale copy. With a tendency to give up at the end of the match, he who is very often replaced in the club during the last half hour. “It is not by snapping our fingers that we can put everything back in place. Antoine may have a worse period. (…) It was not his best match, obviously, but I will not question everything he is capable of doing“, explained Deschamps on the eve of the game in Croatia.

Less decisive than in the past – even if he delivered two assists during the friendly match against South Africa in March – Griezmann also has the advantage of having little competition in his position. Who among the players on the current roster could fill their supporting role for Mbappé and Griezmann in the three-defender system? Christopher Nkunku plays higher, like Mbappé, which he did well against Denmark, with an assist, then against Croatia. In a system with four defenders, the question of Griezmann’s role would arise more.

Antoine Griezmann during the warm-up before the match between France and Denmark, June 3, 2022, at the Stade de France.  (JOSE BRETON / NURPHOTO / AFP)

For the third top scorer in the history of the Blues, it remains to find the click. “We know the player he is, and we suspect that it will start again“, assured Rabiot on Tuesday. Just as confident as his midfielder, Deschamps should not hesitate before playing Griezmann against Austria on Friday, for his 64th game in a row with the France team. A record for number 7 , who has not missed a single meeting of the Blues since a match against England in 2017. Antoine Griezmann is also that: continuity and the assurance of being efficient, at any time, at the higher level. It remains to be seen when it will regain its effectiveness.

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