Misfiring Griezmann can’t lead France to Euro 2016 glory

Antoine Griezmann France Euro 2016

France forward Antoine Griezmann underperformed as Les Blues suffered a narrow defeat to Portugal in the final of Euro 2016 on Sunday night, missing two gilt-edged chances, and after the game admitted being “frustrated” at not beating the goalkeeper. “We hit the post, I had chances as well and I almost scored. The goalkeeper played well, too. It’s frustrating, but we must come back stronger,” said the Atletico Madrid man.

Griezmann had two headed efforts either side of half-time, forcing a finger-tip save from the impressive Rui Patricio in the Portugal goal, and putting another chance over the bar from close range when it looked easier for him to score. Given how good his heading has been in the Euros so far, it was a shock to see the Frenchman spurn such an opportunity, but his profligacy summed up Les Blues’ evening.

France were big favourites to win in the final after impressively beating Germany in the semi-final, but they couldn’t breach a stubborn Portugal backline at the Stade de France to get themselves ahead. “It’s cruel and magnificent at the same time. We’ve lived through some extraordinary moments, and the saddest moments as well. We have to learn. But tonight we gave it all and we have no regrets.”

Griezmann picked up the Golden Boot for his six goals and two assists in Euro 2016, and while pleased to be so prolific, the Atletico forward admitted it was hard to celebrate off the back of France’s final defeat. The 25-year-old formed a potent partnership with Olivier Giroud in the latter stages, but the two struggled on Sunday, and Griezmann said he’s too disappointed to cherish winning the Golden Boot award.

“Maybe later I can feel proud, but for now, it’s about the group. I’m very disappointed for my team-mates. I really wanted to offer them this trophy, but I couldn’t score and I’m disappointed. I’m proud of the squad, proud of everybody. Now we have to come back stronger. This time we didn’t manage it, unlike against Germany. It is a pity,” he added.

France’s only defeat in the tournament came in the final, and it was only the second time they were shutout by an opponent. Portugal made waves in the Euros for their defensive record, and such a robust approach was the difference in the end. Portugal had ground France down by extra time, and were looking more likely of scoring in their brief forays forward.

Brilliant Griezmann inspires France to Euro 2016 final

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France are in the Euro 2016 final and will face Portugal on Sunday after defeating Germany 2-0 thanks to two Antoine Griezmann goals.

The opener at the death of the first half was a penalty- but it was a controversial one as Patrice Evra’s header in the German area was adjudged to touch Bastian Schweinsteiger’s hand, it did but was it a harsh decision? Man of the moment Griezmann was up against probably the best goal keeper in the world in Manuel Neuer, Griezmann’s shot sent the German the other way and France erupted.

Germany went in at half time a goal down but just how this came to be will take a lot of soul searching from within the team. Because they quite simply dominated the first half. Germany were irresistible, near magnificent, closed down their opponents and were making France look very ordinary. There seemed like there would be only one winner. But the penalty and at the time it came seemed to wind the Germans some.

The second half started much as the first half had been- with Germany seeking possession, but it was becoming all to evident what their problem was: They had in this tournament no killer instinct and no striker. In previous competitions going back to when they last won the Euro’s in 1996 they could count on Oliver Bierhoff, Miroslav Klose dominated the front line in the 2000′s and Thomas Muller was mostly quite frankly superb. They still had Muller and at Euro 2016 he was mostly quite frankly abysmal. Strange from coach Joachim Low that he refused to part ways with a striker that simply wasn’t having a good tournament, the ball was his enemy and his gift of the gab had clearly left him. Germany had no answer- and then they did the unthinkable and played like an amateur Sunday team in defence to gift the French and Griezmann the second goal which killed the game off.

As for France they grew more confident and bold as the game went on- finding more space in midfield and controlling it too. Paul Pogba shone, Patrice Evra rolled back the year’s, Hugo Lloris IS the goal keeper of this tournament and made some vital saves as Germany threw everything at the French in the final frantic moments and Samuel Umtiti the 22 year old Lyon player was an absolute monster.

France will face the other Ronaldo at the Stade de France in a major final just like they did when they hosted the 1998 World Cup. That night they played against a Brazilian who should have been in a hospital bed not on a football pitch. On Sunday they will face a player on top of his game. For tonight the Stade Velodrome in Marseille and indeed the whole country of France is awash in the tri colours, Viva France!

 

 

Iceland thawed out by superior France in Euro 2016 quarter finals

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In truth this quarter final match at the Stade de France became a training exercise for France’s semi final clash with world champions Germany within twenty minutes when the French ran into a two goal lead. By half time Les Bleus had doubled that lead in a game that ended 5-2 for the Euro 2016 hosts.

This match was arguably the most entertaining of the competition so far and yet it was all over so very quickly. Iceland who had surprised many by getting this far in the competition played their part and could hold their heads highly, because they simply never gave up. Whilst 5-2 looks on paper like an easy victory for France, we should remember that Iceland won the second half 2-1 where they played some wonderful football, the future for the nation looks bright.

But tonight was all about France with due respect- a sold out Stade de France hadn’t been this excited pre game since the days of World Cup 98 and there was certainly that vibe throughout the match.

Oliver Giroud with a slight hint of being offside opened the scoring with a nice run and decisive shot. The relief on the Arsenal strikers face said it all- yes he had put his side 1-0 up in a quarter final but the celebration also seemed personal. Giroud had been incredibly wasteful thus far in the competition and tonight was about putting that stat to bed. Just before the hour mark Giroud got his second goal and was then brought off by coach Didier Deschamps to save the striker for the semi final.

Eight minutes after Giroud’s opener, Paul Pogba rose easily above everyone else to head in from a corner and it was already party atmosphere in Paris, as Iceland’s heads seemed to go down. Two minutes before half time Dimitri Payet who had gone a tad quiet in these Euro’s after an electrifying opening two games made it 3-0 and then the man of the moment Antoine Griezmann added a fourth a minute later. Iceland were out before the game had even got going.

This match was in stark contrast to a lumbering Germany- Italy match where open spaces and an attack minded attitude seemed to have abandoned football yesterday night. But tonight we were treated to a free flowing game full of chances. To their credit Iceland came out for the second half intent to pull back the deficit. Eleven minutes into the second half they did just that with Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s header. Though aforementioned Giroud put paid to a mini revival with his second and France’s 5th goal.

But still Iceland gave it their all, and perhaps they deserved a penalty too when Patrice Evra trying to clear the ball from danger plainly handled the ball. Wave on was the referees response. French keeper Hugo Lloris was forced into two magnificent saves and then Iceland did get their second Birkir Bjarnason with six minutes to go.

For a team that started the day as 8/1 outsiders to win Iceland gave their all and had 11 shots on goal. But make no mistake the best team did win, and even though they eased off the gears in the second half Iceland were always going to be second best. But a slight scare did they give the hosts, so much so Icelandic fans saluted their team and their team saluted them, bidding farewell to what has been a quite memorable tournament for them.

Now Didier Deschamps and his team will face their biggest test yet in Germany, who will not let their tie be over so quickly. Thursday night looms.

 

Antoine Griezmann fast becoming one of Europe’s finest forwards

Atletico Madrid recently beat Real Sociedad 2-0 in the Spanish La Liga, with Antoine Griezmann scoring the second goal of the game in a man-of-the-match performance against his former side. Diego Simeone’s men boosted their title hopes with the victory, but the real story of the night was Griezmann’s performance.

Despite coming up against his former club, the French international was outstanding, playing a more central role behind the striker, and flourishing in the position to help his new side beat his former team. He was industrious through the middle of the park, happy to come deep to help defend and receive the ball, while supporting the attack when the ball was at the other end of the pitch.

It was a fantastic showing from a player who doesn’t get much credit outside of Spain, but Griezmann is fast becoming one of Europe’s finest forwards. Only Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has scored more La Liga goals in 2015 than the 24-year-old, and his debut campaign with Atleti has likely surpassed all expectations.

Signed for £24M on a six-year deal with the Spanish giants, there was a lot of pressure on his shoulders, as he was joining a side fresh from winning the La Liga title, and finishing runners-up in the Champions League. Griezmann enjoyed an impressive season in 2013/14, yet many were unsure if he would succeed in Madrid not to mention the fact that it can take time to settle in with a new side.

The French international has taken little time to impress, scoring 16 goals in 21 league starts for Simeone’s side. He’s very versatile, capable of playing on the flanks, through the middle, and in the hole, and his eye for a goal has often been the difference in tight games this season. Considering his impressive scoring record, it is surprising Griezmann isn’t being spoken about more since he was also outstanding last season while playing for Sociedad.

Atletico Madrid certainly have their hands on another gem, and the decision to sign him on a six-year doesn’t appear too risky based on his debut campaign with Madrid. The next step for the youngster will be improving from this season, and hitting new heights in his career. Griezmann is beginning to play a more predominant role in the French national team, and certainly warrants more recognition as the league’s 6th top scorer. Atleti certainly won’t be entertaining any bids for the talented forward, and £24M is looking like a bargain now.

Can Antoine Griezmann become one of Europe’s finest forwards?