Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
France's Antoine Griezmann drills the ball past Honduras' Luis Garrido during the group E World Cup soccer match between France and Honduras at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Sunday, June 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)
Griezmann can hardly believe his World Cup luck
First Published Jun 17 2014 09:23 am • Last Updated Jun 17 2014 11:25 pm

Ribeirao Preto, Brazil • Antoine Griezmann can hardly believe he’s playing at the World Cup.

With Franck Ribery out injured, Griezmann has been thrust into France’s attack and into the spotlight. Despite playing only a few international games, he looks settled and was impressive at times in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Honduras in Group E.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

His versatility allows him to make the most of the "total freedom" which coach Didier Deschamps gives his mobile forwards.

The 23-year-old Griezmann’s national team prospects appeared dim when he was banned by the French Football Federation for one year over a disciplinary issue.

When asked how he would have reacted a year ago if he’d been told he would be playing on football’s biggest stage, he said: "I would probably have said ‘Are you having a laugh?’"

In October 2012, he was among a group of under-21 players who left their training camp late at night and drove two hours to go to a Paris nightclub and back between two playoff games against Norway for the 2013 European Championship. France lost 5-3 and failed to qualify.

"I knew I had to work hard and show another image of myself," he said.

Once his ban was over, Deschamps called him up to face the Netherlands in March last year and Griezmann has scored three times in five appearances.

He is part of a revamped forward line that is interchangeable. Deschamps lets his forwards roam around at will, providing they don’t neglect their defensive duties.

"We have total freedom in attack," Griezmann said. "He gives us carte blanche to enjoy ourselves as long as we help our fullbacks out."


story continues below
story continues below

Griezmann played in three positions against Honduras, with Valbuena and Benzema playing in two each.

Early on, Valbuena did most of his attacking down the right, but moved to the left midway through the first half to initiate an attacking move.

When Benzema dropped deep to collect a pass, Griezmann replaced him at center forward, and when Valbuena shifted over to the left Griezmann moved to the right.

"The coach gives me a lot of freedom to play between the lines," Valbuena said.

When Deschamps took Valbuena off, Olivier Giroud came on at center forward, Benzema took Griezmann’s place on the left and Griezmann moved to the right — meaning Honduras had faced three different center forwards.

"It’s easy to come into this team, because we play a possession game and the technical ability is high. I try to play one-touch football and speed the game up," Griezmann said. "It’s pretty easy to play with Valbuena, because his style of play is similar to mine and we like to play one-twos."

His understanding with Benzema is also promising.

"He gives me a lot of advice on the pitch, tells me not to get stressed out, to play the way I do for my club and to pay attention to his runs," Griezmann said. "We’re together a lot and we like to have a laugh."

For a diminutive player, Griezmann also has a great natural spring, as he showed by leaping above taller center half Maynor Figueroa to head the ball against the crossbar.

"That goes back to when I was young, when we were out playing with mates," Griezmann said. "One of us crossed the ball and the others did headers. I have this heading ability thanks to my friends."

Although Griezmann comes across as pretty unflappable, there is one thing that does annoy him: comparisons with Ribery, who was the same age when he broke into the France team just weeks before the 2006 World Cup and shone at the tournament.

"There’s no comparison," he said. "Of course I’m flattered because we’re talking about Franck Ribery, but everyone has their own way of playing."



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.