World Cup 2022: Antoine Griezmann, the essential engine of the France team

On the bench, he laughs. Hilarious, Antoine Griezmann. It is better to take things lightly in this way by witnessing the poor spectacle of his small comrades in tenure (nine entrants) for this match without much at stake against Tunisia, Wednesday, November 30. So he laughs, “Mr. Antoine”, with Kylian Mbappé and the others, perhaps chambering, from their observation post, these rather lost Blues bis.

And then after seventy-three minutes and a Tunisian goal against an amorphous French defense, Antoine Griezmann enters. On the ground, the light is slowly returning. In a few well-felt passes, in a few happy diversions, Antoine Griezmann still appears as an essential asset at the heart of the game. The story is even on the verge of ending well, with in extremis a volley goal, his 43e in selection, the one he has been looking for in vain for a year. But no. First validated, it is refused after recourse to video arbitration, for a questionable offside.

“Peace and Work”

Not enough to start, after the match and leaving the locker room, the current good mood of an Antoine Griezmann commenting: We were quite nice because we had already qualified, we didn’t get too upset. » No, he does not get angry, Antoine Griezmann, rather playful since the start of this World Cup, to joke more often than not. His credo for the future? “Peace and Work”. The program suits him well. He hardly applied himself to anything else in recent years, when the situation was no longer really smiling.

In Barcelona for two years (2019-2021), the parenthesis is disenchanted. Not statistically (102 games and 35 goals), but because the atmosphere is never good in Catalonia, just like the well-established certainties about his true role. What to say about a collaboration on which returns after the fact the Barcelona president Joan Laporta by conceding: “He was not the player we needed” ? The Catalan leader makes it clear that the player had “always had a great attitude”but the consolation is small.

70 consecutive selections

The return to his favorite club, Atlético Madrid, in September 2021, was to heal the wounds. Except that the clauses of the loan then granted by Barcelona, ​​with whom the contract ran until 2024, weighed down the rebirth of the French for a long time. To avoid an overinflated buyout option (40 million euros) after two years on loan, Atlético must limit their playing time. The case was not resolved until last October, a month before the World Cup , Barcelona agreeing to reduce its claims (to 20 million euros) and Antoine Griezmann to lower his annual salary by more than 30% (to 8 million euros).

These setbacks in the club, Antoine Griezmann can partly forget them in the France team. Didier Deschamps is always in support of his midfielder, who is not for nothing with 70 consecutive selections, a record. But the yield in blue has steadily decreased over the past two years. And especially since the return of Karim Benzema. A question of placement, of liaison on the ground less obvious than with Olivier Giroud. Floating, Antoine Griezmann?

On the ground, we hear it more

The circumstances of the World Cup in Qatar changed the situation. The packages of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kanté led Didier Deschamps to reposition his player to secure his midfield, making Antoine Griezmann a torchbearer more than an attacking number 10. The coach knows he can count on the man’s intelligence and adaptability. Who suddenly has to run even more (11 km per game on average) and probably agree to score less.

“There is no sacrifice on his part, because he is so generous that he takes pleasure when he touches the ball (…) and he loves being on the recovery and tackling”, underlines Didier Deschamps after the victory against Denmark (2-1). Indeed, the Mâconnais does not balk at the job, at ease in the defensive register as in the organization of the game. On the ground, we hear him more, to replace, to motivate his people. Always after Denmark, boasting “exceptional effort” of his teammates, he says to himself ” very happy “. It shows. And it is with him that the France team laughs.


Poland in eighth

It will therefore be Poland that the Blues will find in the round of 16 on Sunday, December 4, and Robert Lewandowski’s teammates owe it just as much to Saudi Arabia as to their performance. Because it was on goal difference and thanks to the narrow defeat of the Saudis against Mexico (1-2) that the Poles won their qualification after a poor match against Argentina (0-2), finally first in the group . Without having framed any shot in 90 minutes, the Poles avoided the correction thanks to their goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who notably stopped a penalty from Lionel Messi. They will have to work differently to imitate their elders in 1982, the only ones to have beaten the Blues in official competition, to then win third place in the World Cup in Spain (3-2).



World Cup 2022: the Blues spin in the quarter, Giroud in history

Three more. Three games for a third star. If the course is still long, the Blues give themselves the right to dream. By beating Robert Lewandowski’s Poland 3 goals to 1, this Sunday, December 4, Didier Deschamps’ men join the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Qatar, and confirm their status as favorites.

For this round of 16, Didier Deschamps trusted the eleven men who beat Denmark (2 goals to 1) in the group stage. Jules Koundé and Raphaël Varane were therefore well established and the attacking quartet composed of Dembélé, Griezmann, Mbappé and Giroud, renewed.

If the first half was, in possession, to the advantage of the Blues, the Polish attackers gave cold sweats to the French defense. First by a bad back pass from defender Dayot Upamecano towards his goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (5th minute), then by a save from this same Lloris followed by a save in extremis from Raphaël Varane, on his line, at the end of a sequence of “billiards” in the three-color penalty area.

Giroud only top scorer

Stirred, the Blues pulled themselves together immediately and continued to attack. The accelerations of Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé bent an aging Polish defense, without breaking it. Very quickly, we guessed that the fate of the match would begin to take shape in the second half, as the stakes seemed to paralyze both teams. France and Poland did not manage to relax completely.

Then came Olivier Giroud. On a millimeter pass from Kylian Mbappé, the French number 9 managed to deceive the Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny, with a nice shot, just before the break (44th minute). By scoring his 52nd goal for the France team, the AC Milan striker frees his team and at the same time becomes the best scorer in the history of the Blues, ahead of Thierry Henry.

Blue dominance, deserved victory

In the second period, the Blues established their domination. In search of a second goal to ensure their qualification, Didier Deschamps’ men multiplied the attacks on the left and right flanks, playing on the speed of the attackers. After a cross from the right, the Polish goalkeeper Szczesny and Raphaël Varane remain on the ground, after a big contact in the air. Olivier Giroud scores – again – with an acrobatic gesture of which he has the secret, but too late, the referee had already whistled. Invalid goal.

Reassembled, the Blues do not stop there. They want to score. Above all, they want to avoid an unfortunate twist of fate, where the clearly dominated Poles would take advantage of a favorable counter to equalize. This was the case during the last Euro, against Switzerland, twice.

The France team knows its history well enough to protect itself. So much so that in the 75th minute, after an overflow from Ousmane Dembélé, Kylian Mbappé recovers the ball. He takes his time, adjusts his strike and seals the fate of the Poles, with a sure gesture (74th). Skylight. The mark of the greats.

The score will not stop there. Because Mbappé is hungry. His talent had burst into the eyes of the whole world, in 2018 in Russia, at the same stage of the competition against Argentina. Four years later, Kylian Mbappé is still not satisfied and probably needs to remind the football world of what caliber of players he belongs to. Served by Marcus Thuram, he gets on his right foot before striking. His ball arrives again in the skylight, but this time in the opposite skylight (89th).

The spell is sealed. The Poland team never seemed able to compete with their opponent of the day. The penalty obtained in stoppage time, initially missed by Robert Lewandowski then removed, and scored, will remain anecdotal. Enough to save honor for the valiant Poles.

In the quarter-finals, the reigning world champions will face the winner of the England – Senegal match (this Sunday, December 4 at 8 p.m.), to try to reach the last four for the seventh time in their history.



2022 World Cup: Olivier Giroud, top scorer in the blue jersey

Despite doubts and criticism, Olivier Giroud continues to prove that he is one of the greatest players to have worn the jersey of the France team. The AC Milan striker became Sunday, November 4 the player who scored the most goals in history with the Blues.

Olivier Giroud scored his 52nd goal against Poland in France’s round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, after his brace against Australia in the opening match. He had then equaled the record previously held by Thierry Henry (51 goals). He is now ahead of the former Arsenal striker as well as his teammate Antoine Griezmann, Michel Platini and Karim Benzema.

► Olivier Giroud, new “record holder” with 52 goals

The new top scorer in the France team also became at 36 years old against Australia the oldest scorer with the Habs. Called up for the first time in 2011 by Laurent Blanc, Olivier Giroud scored his first goal with the Blues three months later against Germany on February 29, 2012.

Mute in front of goal during Euro 2012 (in a substitute role) and during the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the striker is often the target of criticism. He was nonetheless effective on several occasions, notably during qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, scoring a decisive goal against Sweden to allow France to fly to Brazil.

Indisputable holder under the Deschamps era, he was relegated to the background when the coach recalled Karim Benzema last year. The injury of the latter allows him to find a starting place at the forefront of the French attack during the 2022 World Cup.

► Thierry Henry, the revelation of 1998, 51 goals

Performing well with AS Monaco, Thierry Henry made his debut for the French team in 1997. In line with his good performances in the club, he was called up by Aimé Jacquet to compete in the World Cup in France in 1998 and was crowned champion at the outcome of the competition. Author of three goals in six games, he even finished top scorer for the France team in the World Cup. Two years later, he scored three times during Euro 2000 won by the Blues.

With the France team, he also participated in the 2006 World Cup (final) and was selected for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The star striker of Arsenal and FC Barcelona remains the only French player to have played in the competition four times. He retired from international duty in 2010, with 123 caps and 51 goals on the clock.

► Antoine Griezmann, master of Deschamps, 42 goals

The 31-year-old Frenchman is playing his third World Cup in Qatar. Selected for the first time in February 2014 by Didier Deschamps, he honors his first tenure against the Netherlands (2-0 victory) with a goal. Combative and very active in defense, he is appreciated by the French coach who made him the leader of his offensive sector from Euro 2016.

World champion in 2018, he scored four goals during the competition. In the final against Croatia, the “Little Prince” was involved in three of France’s four goals. He now has 42 achievements in the blue jersey.

► Michel Platini, first French victory at the European Championships, 41 goals

Fourth goalscorer in the history of the France team (41 goals in 72 selections), Michel Platini marked his time with his decisive free kicks (11 goals). This is how he opened his counter in the France team against Czechoslovakia in 1976. The legend of Saint-Étienne and Juventus Turin participated in three World Cups.

He distinguished himself in particular during Euro 1984, during which he scored nine times in five games to allow the Blues to win their first international competition, including one in the final against Spain. He ended his career in 1987 during qualifying for Euro 1988.

► Karim Benzema, banned then recalled, 37 goals

Absent in Qatar due to injury, Karim Benzema (38 years old, 97 caps) sees his chances of wearing the blue jersey one last time in the World Cup slipping away. The career of the player trained in Lyon with the national team was marked by a long shortage, Didier Deschamps refusing to call on him between 2015 and 2021 following accusations of blackmail against his teammate Mathieu Valbuena.

Called up in 2007 by Raymond Domenech, he scored in his first match against Austria (victory against Austria 1-0). Silent at the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, shunned by his coach during the 2010 World Cup, he has so far only taken part in the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2021, during which he scored 4 goals.



2022 World Cup results: Netherlands and Argentina advance to quarter-finals

Argentina still lives

Big first for Lionel Messi. The Argentine genius finally scored in the World Cup knockout phase and his selection, Argentina, beat Australia 2 goals to 1 on Saturday December 3 in Doha, in the round of 16 of the 2022 World Cup.

The Albiceleste elf, with a placed shot (35th), then Julian Alvarez after a blunder by Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan (57th), allowed Argentina to dispose of the Australian Socceroos, who nevertheless reduced the gap thanks to an own goal from Enzo Fernandez (77th).

By the way, “Leo” Messi notably joins Frenchman Kylian Mbappé, his partner from Paris Saint-Germain, at the top of the 2022 World Cup scorer rankings with three goals.

The Netherlands faithful to the meeting

Earlier in the day, the Netherlands overcame valiant Americans. With a Memphis Depay finally scoring and a decisive Denzel Dumfries on his right wing, the Batavians gave up the American safe three times (3 goals to 1) and won their ticket for the quarter-finals on Saturday in Doha.

The United States dreamed of a feat within the framework of their operation to promote the soccer for the 2026 World Cup, which they will co-organize with Mexico and Canada. But the American dream only lasted five minutes, when the team USA came back to 2-1 in the final quarter of an hour before Denzel Dumfries burst in to breathe life into the Oranje fans and their coach.

The poster between Argentina and the Netherlands will be superb Friday, December 9 in the setting of the Lusail stadium. On this occasion, the selection of the late Diego Maradona will remember his first World Cup won at home, in 1978, beating the Dutch in the final.



2022 World Cup results: England and USA through to round of 16

► The English lead Group B

England qualified for the round of 16 of the 2022 World Cup by sweeping Wales 3-0 on Tuesday (November 29th) in Doha, Qatar. First in Group B, the English accelerated after a soporific first period and made the difference thanks to their attackers Marcus Rashford twice (50th, 68th) and Phil Foden (51st) against disappointing Welsh, like their star Gareth Bale.

The English finish top of the group, with seven points, after two victories, against the Iranians and the Welsh, and a draw, against the Americans. In the round of 16, the English will face Senegal, second in group A, on Sunday.

► The Americans take their revenge on the Iranians

The United States, beaten by Iran in 1998, took their revenge on Tuesday (1-0) in Group B of the World Cup-2022 thanks to Pulisic’s 22nd international goal, synonymous with his selection of the round of 16 against the Countries -Down and elimination for the “Team Melli”.

With five points, two more than their adversary at the end of an always special confrontation between two nations no longer maintaining diplomatic relations, the Americans have reached this level of competition for the 7th time, which continues to refuse Iranians.

Team USA, which did not qualify for the last World Cup in Russia, has already reached the round of 16 three times since the war (1994, 2010, 2014) and the quarter-finals once (2002). As they had announced, the 22 players ignored the tense political context, to focus on the sporting issue and deliver a committed match but played in an excellent state of mind.

Iran, which had to equalize to win its ticket for the next round, tried to pack the game. In the last minutes of the meeting, the “Team USA” was very hot on several Iranian attacks, but resisted until the end.