It will not have escaped anyone: Antoine Griezmann is at the bottom of his career. And as if his club difficulties were not enough, here he is losing influence in the France team. However, the path to finding the light seems quite clear and is paved with several elements: rest, physical preparation and therefore confidence.
Normally it’s all about the hoof. 9 millimeters, at most, and the guarantee of even the best version of Antoine Griezmann. You just have to leaf through the family albums to convince yourself of this: the blond has never worn the game of the Blues as much as when he had a short haircut. Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup are proof of this. Grizou must certainly know it, since for this June rally, as if he wanted to give himself every chance of reviving after a complicated season, he went to the cut-tif. No more fleece à la Forlán or the Zlatanesque ponytail, we’ve cleared the way. Problem: The loyalty card seems to have expired, and the shampoo is no longer working.
78 minutes against Denmark rather unremarkable and during which we will only remember the quality of his openings towards Benzema. An entry into play at the hour mark in Croatia, where this time it is his lack of efficiency in front of the cages (first on a gap where he stumbles twice on Livaković; then at the very end of the match where a favorable counter leaves him facing an empty goal) which can be blamed on him at the end of this draw. By being the 1 of the 3-4-1-2 system, the boy is supposed to be installed in an armchair, behind the ubiquitous Mbappé-Benzema duo. “I felt good in the heart of the game, I had two attackers in front of me that I could find” he assured in the passageways of the Stade de France last Friday, on the evening of his 21e consecutive tenure.
However, even if Didier Deschamps seems to have racked his brains so as not to have to sacrifice his playmaker, something seems to have broken for almost a year and the return of KB9 and the sidelining of his peak buddy Olivier Giroud, with whom he had built a perfect understanding. However, the drop in performance is not only explained by this game of musical chairs, but also by his own difficulties in the club. While he was an undisputed leader of Atlético during his first spell (2014-2019), his adventures at Barça and his delicate return to Madrid last summer eroded the confidence of the Mâconnais. Add to that an injury to the right thigh which sidelined him for sixty days, he who had never experienced a physical glitch in his entire career before that, you will get the perfect cocktail to doubt.
In the ranks of the Blues, no one will overwhelm him. “Antoine has been with us since 2014, with everything he has brought to the field, with the results, his ability to score and score.pointed out Didier Deschamps in March. Humanly, he is an endearing person. Many appreciate his generosity, his humility. He had a tougher time with two injuries, but he’s coming back. » During these slumps, Griezmann precisely approached these blue parentheses as one would take advantage of a weekend in the countryside: it was in selection that he could recharge his batteries, find a smile and a sense of his game. Too bad if the attacker is relieved of the exclusive responsibility of taking penalties, since his three consecutive failures at eleven meters between September 2019 and September 2020. Despite everything, during this month of June, as if the pressure was increasing feel more on his shoulders, the smile is more contained. For the first time since 2019, the third top scorer in the history of the Blues (with 42 goals, one more than Platini) has just gone through five international meetings without having scored. Nor is it the emergence of Christopher Nkunku in the offensive line that is to reassure him. His partners seem just as disconcerted, like Hugo Lloris, who goes with his maxim: “Antoine is a safe bet. Everyone has ups and downs. »
What can be done to ensure that this safe bet finds its peaks? The interested party is already convinced of one thing: everything will be decided this summer, after a (short) period of rest. “In the second half (against Denmark)I was a bit physically distressedconfessed Grizi. Last year, I did a pre-season at Barça that was completely different from what I was then asked to do at Atlético. I want to end this season well to start the next one with good preparation. » As Diego Simeone knows how to reserve. Cardio to become the heart of his teams again, that’s what Griezmann needs, he who has become indispensable by his science of the game, but also by his defensive activity. This is also one of the keys to the future success of the Blues: the tactical trial and error of Deschamps is legitimate in this pre-World Cup period, but they will continue as long as the whole block does not agree to lay a dry cleaner. Griezmann, over time, has just become that playmaker and chaser. A barometer, a compass, a cursor. And since he can’t be brilliant without a clean cup, it’s a safe bet that the Blues can’t hope to bring back a cup without a clean Griezmann.
By Mathieu Rollinger, in Vienna