Portugal-France: Antoine Griezmann in difficulty in this Euro… what’s the problem?

Portugal-France: Antoine Griezmann in difficulty in this Euro… what’s the problem?
Portugal-France: Antoine Griezmann in difficulty in this Euro… what’s the problem?

Having struggled since the start of the Euro, the French team qualified for the quarter-finals after a narrow victory against Belgium (1-0).

After another disappointing match, Antoine Griezmann is struggling to find his best level and the influence he has regularly had on the Blues’ game in recent years.

How can we explain these difficulties?

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Euro 2024

France is looking for a maestro. Qualified for the quarter-finals of the Euro, the French team is nevertheless struggling to convince. The main reasons for this are chronic inefficiency in front of goal and matches often played at a false pace. Far from the coldly realistic team capable of dynamiting any defense in the last two World Cups (14 goals scored in 2018, 17 in 2022), the Blues seem to have forgotten how to put the ball in the back of the net at the start of the competition. After four matches, and before facing Portugal (Friday, 9 p.m., live commentary on TF1Info), they have only scored… three times.

44 goals… but none in this Euro

Even though several attacking individuals tend to underperform, like captain Kylian Mbappé, it is above all the performance of one man that is intriguing. Usually so comfortable during major tournaments, Antoine Griezmann has been a shadow of himself since his arrival in Germany. Author of 44 goals and 38 assists since his debut in the national team (133 selections), the native of Mâcon has still not managed to be decisive in this Euro, or even in the preparation matches. Worse, he shows an unusual technical feverishness, displays a wastefulness that we do not know him for and is particularly clumsy in the opposing area. Probably exhausted by an interminable season, he who played his 56th match of the season against Belgium, he does not manage to take on this status of “Mr. +” that the tricolors need so much.

When there is a big game, I know I can count on him.

Didier Deschamps

However, the Atletico Madrid player remains unshakeable in the mind of the coach. “There was not the slightest doubt in my mind to start him (against Belgium). […] He was very interesting with the ball, even if he could be even more efficient. In the grid of the field, if Koundé had such a match, it is thanks to him”declared Didier Deschamps after the round of 16 match against Belgium (1-0). “He’s an intelligent person, when there’s a big match, I know I can count on him”he added to the microphone of BeIN Sports.

“We are talking about a player with 133 caps, who scored 44 goals, and who, until last March, had played more than 80 matches in a row for the French team.”for his part, stressed his faithful assistant Guy Stéphan at a press conference this Wednesday. “We are not going to question it today. Antoine is a team player, very subtle in his game, a player of the last pass, extremely generous in his effort. He has brought us a lot and will continue to bring us a lot.”he further emphasized.

Yet, despite this displayed confidence, the elegant 1.76m left-hander seems to be in doubt. A lack of reference points that can be explained in part by the shifting offensive animation of the French team, always looking for the right formula in this sector of the game. Thus, despite a 4-3-3 that has not changed on paper, the men around which this system is structured have, themselves, varied widely: we have gone from a formula with a center forward and two wingers to frame “Grizi” to another with only Kylian Mbappé and Marcus Thuram as other players with an offensive vocation.

A logical adaptation period but time is pressing

So much so that the former Barcelona player found himself on the right wing against the Red Devils. “In Qatar, I was more in the heart of the game. In 2016 and 2018, I was more of a second striker. This year, we are trying to find the key and I end up as a right winger,” he explains in the columns of TF1 Mag. “It’s been a long time since I played in this position so it took some getting used to.”he points out again. “I am a soldier of the collective, of the coach. He knows very well that he can count on me for any position, that I will always give my all.”says the versatile attacker.

Griezmann: “I am a soldier of the coach”Source : Football – EURO

But if he makes the best of a bad situation, it seems obvious that Antoine Griezmann cannot maximise his qualities on one side. “It’s true that I’m not a winger who’s going to make a difference in one-on-ones, but who’s more likely to look for space in the middle. We saw it two or three times, when I came in on my left foot. Sometimes, I could have shot.”he acknowledges. His incessant runs without the ball are, of course, valuable for plugging gaps on the flank but the backlash is an increased difficulty in creating gaps with the leather.

Finally, it is important to remember that these problems also undoubtedly find their roots in the absence of Olivier Giroud, very little used in this Euro (45 minutes of play in four matches). And when we know the relationship between the two footballers, and the automatisms that they have accumulated over the years, we understand better the need for the French strategist to adapt. Even more so with a Kylian Mbappé diminished by his broken nose.

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But at a time when adversity is going to be increasingly tough, the Blues desperately need him to find his rhythm. And quickly. “Instead of touching 100 balls, you have to try to touch 30 or 40 really good ones”smiles the main person concerned, who does not seem overly concerned. It remains to be hoped that these few dozen balls will be enough to dynamite the Portuguese defense in the quarter-finals.


Maxence GEVIN

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