Rising Bayern Munich star Kingsley Coman ruled out for two months

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Kingsley Coman was supposed to be preparing to play for France against Sweden in their World Cup qualifying match, but it never came to pass. The talented 20 year old on loan at Bayern Munich from Italian giants Juventus suffered a bizarre injury in training and it is expected that he will miss up to 8 weeks recuperating.

It was a bitter blow for a player who when given the chance at Euro 2016 by French manager Laurent Blanc showed enough burst, creativity and hunger to set anyone’s pulses alive. He is already being compared to some French greats of yesteryear and with Bayern facing a tough season ahead of them in the Bundesliga they will rue this miss.

But as some German media pointed out there is a little good will in his injury. Though the player will miss some crucial league games and Champions League matches unlike for example the Premier League the German league has a near 5 week break and so in reality Coman will miss just four weeks.

The player has torn a capsule in his left ankle but worse of all has also torn ligaments in his knee. He is expected to fly back to Germany for his operation. Coman has made 6 appearances from 10 games for Bayern this season who lead the league only on goal difference from surprise package RB Leipizig.

Coman of course suffered a similar injury at the start of the season and with this recurrence it will be up to the Bayern medical team to assess why this has happened again, because the future is bright for the French international. This came to light this week when Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti confirmed the clubs interest in him.

It is Bayern’s intention to buy Coman from his loan and Juventus has given the Bavarian giants the first option. The fee is believed to be around £20 million including add ons which in this day and age looks like a bargain. With the Italian champions selling Paul Pogba to Manchester United in the summer this deal sounds slightly odd given that they could have requested the return of the 20 year old at any moment. Right now despite his injuries it looks certain that by as early as January Coman will be a full time Bayern Munich player.

Could this be a huge mistake by Juve? Only last year influential Spanish magazine Don Balon named Coman as one of the greatest footballing prospects in Europe. Only time will tell.

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French squad blessed with great quality

Euro 2016

The talent pool of players from which the French national team manager Didier Deschamps can currently select his players is rich in both depth and quality.

Whilst there is an abundance of excellent experienced French players, a new wave of gifted youngsters are currently emerging, with several of those having been included in the squad named by Deschamps for Les Bleus 2018 World Cup qualifier against Sweden and friendly with the Ivory Coast.

In total there are seven players among Deschamps’ 23 strong group aged 23 or less, who each have varying levels of experience at international level.

Pogba and Varane possess potential to build wonderful international careers

Already the 23-year-old Paul Pogba, who became the world’s most expensive player after joining Manchester United from Juventus for €105m in the summer, has amassed 42 internationals caps.  In doing so Pogba has scored seven goals, with great potential existing for him to become just the seventh French player to become an international cap centurion.  That is also the case for Raphael Varane, since despite also being just 23 and missing Euro 2016 through injury, having appeared 14 the Real Madrid defender has appeared 33 times for France.

French players with 100 or more international caps

Lillian Thuram – 142

Thierry Henry – 123

Marcel Desailly – 116

Zinedine Zidane – 108

Didier Deschamps – 103

In addition to Pogba and Varane, there are two other 23-year-olds in the current French squad with those being Lucas Digne and Nabil Fekir, who have featured for France on 14 and six occasions respectively.

Whereas Barcelona’s Digne, who was tormented by Kevin De Bruyne during the Catalan giants 3-1 Champions League group stage defeat to Manchester City, will vie with Patrice Evra to fulfil the French left back role, Fekir of Lyon is one of six forwards from whom Deschamps can select.

France’s forward flair

After starring at Euro 2016 Andre Greizmann remains the fulcrum of France’s attack, with Olivier Giroud and Kevin Gameiro each capable of contributing goals to the French cause.

Relative to Fekir, just as he lacks experience at senior international level so too do Ousmane Dembele and Thomas Lemar.  Nevertheless the duo is prodigiously talented individuals currently enjoying fine seasons for their club sides.

The manner in which Dembele has seamlessly settled into Thomas Tuchel’s Borussia Dortmund side since signing for the Bundesliga club from Stade Rennais for €8m is testament to the 19-year-old quality, whilst currently flourishing at AS Monaco is Lemar.

The uncapped quartet

In 18 appearances in all competition, the former Caen forward has scored five goals, with him being one of four uncapped players among Deschamps’ squad.

The other two are Lille’s reliable right back Sebastien Corchia, goalkeeper Benoit Costil and Adrien Rabiot, who despite being just 21-years-old has established himself as a key member of Paris Saint Germain’s midfield.

Excellent midfield options open to Deschamps

Aside from Rabiot, the only other player owned by the Parisien giants called up by Deschamps for his country’s upcoming games is Blaise Matuidi, who will compete with N’Golo Kante, Pogba and Moussa Sissoko for a central midfield berth, with Dimitri Payet available to provide craft and creativity from wide areas, as proven by his superb recent form for West Ham.

Lloris captains a talented squad

Therefore there is a wealth of immensely talented midfielders and forwards among Deschamps squad, which also contains the wonderfully accomplished and assured goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.  As captain of his national team, the 29-year-old consistently exerts a calming influence upon his defence, whilst always being capable of producing outstanding saves, as he has done so regularly for Tottenham this season.  As back-up for Lloris, Deschamps has selected Benoit Costil and Steve Mandanda.

Ahead of Lloris, who is indisputably France’s first choice goalkeeper, a cohesive and well-balanced defence invariably operates.  Both Laurent Koscielny and Raphael Varane have excelled playing as centre backs, with Patrice Evra continuing to fulfil the left back role and Djibril Sidibe establishing himself as Deschamps preferred option to play on the opposite side of the field.

Although having made just four appearances for France, Sidibe has proven his capability of playing at senior international level, with the 24-year-old being an important member of a squad assembled by Deschamps which is blessed with great quality.

Netherlands aspire to secure second successive home win

Euro 2016

Completely dominant, is the best means by which to describe the Netherlands recent 4-1 victory over Belarus.

Two first half goals from Quincy Promes put Danny Blind’s side in the ascendancy, before Aleksey Rios replied for the Belarussian’s.

Nevertheless the Netherlands then resumed control of the game as Vincent Jansen and Davy Klaasen scored.

Despite the Netherlands margin of victory being handsome, it could have been far wider, since they accumulated 27 shots on goal.

Netherlands set to face in-form French

Subsequently following their success, which ended a run of five straight home defeats, the Netherlands will now aspire to win a second successive qualifier against France in Amsterdam.

The last time the two sides met was in the fourth of the Netherlands five match losing home run, as France earned a 3-2 friendly victory.

After Antoine Greizmann and Olivier Giroud had given Didier Deschamps’ side a 2-0 lead, the Netherlands drew level courtesy of goals from Nigel de Jong and Ibrahim Afellay.

Moments after the Stoke City forward scored in the 86th minute, Blaise Matuidi restored Les Bleus lead, to conclude a thoroughly entertaining game.

Just as the Netherlands did, France also recorded a 4-1 home victory in their most recent qualifier.   In their first game at the Stade de France since losing the Euro 2016 final 1-0 to Portugal, France recovered from the loss of an early Milhail Aleksandrov penalty to beat Bulgaria.

Whilst Kevin Gameiro scored twice, France’s other two goal scorers were Greizmann and Dimitri Payet.  The West Ham winger continued his superb return to form after scoring a superb solo goal in his club’s recent 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough.

Greizmann in the groove

Similarly Greizmann’s goal marked a continuation of the fine start to this season which he has made, as the 25-year-old is currently the top scorer in La Liga with six goals from six Spanish top flight appearances this season.

Netherlands v France set to be great contest

Therefore the upcoming contest between the Netherlands and France is set to be played between two confident and in-form teams.  At present the pair is level on four points with the same goal difference at the top of group A.

Sweden to challenge for qualification

Group opponents Sweden have made a similarly positive start to their qualification campaign since after drawing their first match 1-1 with the Netherlands Janne Andersson’s side beat Luxembourg 1-0 as Mikael Lustig scored his fourth international goal in 55 appearances.

Since that Sweden had 28 shots on goal and 65% of possession against Luxembourg, who are to be Belarus’ next opponents, the were largely frustrated in their efforts to score and now face the prospect of hosting Bulgaria, when they will aspire to secure a positive result to enable them to remain competitive at the top of the group.

Ultimately whilst it is France and Holland who are favourites to qualify from group A, Sweden undoubtedly possess the potential to also stage a strong bid to reach the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia, as proven by the accomplished performance which they produced against the Netherlands.

Before the two sides meet again on 10 October 2017 in their last qualification game, they will both aspire to amass a sufficient number of points to either secure or put them in contention of qualification.

Absence from Euro 2016 to inspire Netherlands

Given their absence from Euro 2016, as a result of a dismal qualification campaign, the Netherlands will be particularly determined to qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals, so as to once again play on the most celebrated stage in world football and begin to re-establish themselves as a contender to win major honours, just as they were in Brazil two years ago.

The nature and outcome of their game with France will provide a fair indication of the extent to which the Netherlands are capable of competing against elite opposition, as they aspire to secure a second successive home win.

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2018 World Cup Qualifying begins badly for Euro 2016 finalists

 

Euro 2016

The first round of the European section of 2018 World Cup Qualification fixtures are now complete, as the 54 competing nations launched their respective campaigns to try to reach the finals in Russia.

Whilst there were several noteworthy results, two were particularly surprising and they involved the Euro 2016 finalists, France and Portugal.

Both countries toiled in their first competitive games since playing one another in the Stade de France on 10 July, when the Portuguese triumphed 1-0.

Portugal’s poor start

In order to do so, Fernando Santos’ side produced a wonderfully assured and confident performance, which they were unable to replicate as they opened their 2018 World Cup Qualification campaign with a 2-0 away defeat to Switzerland.

In the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, with the Real Madrid forward missing the game through injury, Portugal conceded two first half goals, as Breel Embolo and Ahmed Mehmedi scored for the Swiss, for whom Granit Xhaka was sent off in injury time.

That represents the fourth red card that the Arsenal holding midfielder has received since the start of last season, as despite performing well he continues to suffer from disciplinary issues.

Nevertheless regardless of Xhaka’s dismissal Switzerland comfortably consigned Fernando Santos to his first competitive defeat in 15 matches as manager of Portugal, who created plenty of chances but were unable to convert any of them.

Faltering French open campaign with a draw

The frustration associated with that issue was one also experienced by Portugal’s Euro 2016 final opponents France.

Specifically despite dominating their first 2018 World Cup Qualification campaign game against Belarus, Les Bleus did not play with the fluency and attacking verve that they consistently displayed throughout Euro 2016, as Aleksandr Khatskevich’s side performed valiantly to secure a creditable point.

Instrumental in earning that was the Belarussian goalkeeper, Andrey Gurbonov, who on numerous occasions denied Antoine Greizmann.  The Atletico Madrid forward, along with Olivier Giroud, Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane, each went close to scoring for Didier Deschamps team, whose best efforts to win the game ended in vain.

Much changed French squad

Of the French team to start against Belarus, there were only five surviving members of the side which began, the Euro 2016 Final against Portugal with the quintet being Giroud, Greizmann, Laurent Koscielny, Pogba and Moussa Sissoko.

Furthermore relative to the squad that Deschamps’ selected for Euro 2016 that which he took to Belarus assumed a markedly contrasting look since it contained eight different players.

Whilst Yohan Cabaye, Kingsley Coman, Patrice Evra, Christophe Jallet, Hugo Lloris, Eliaquim Mangala, Bacary Sagna and Morgan Schneiderlin all featured for France at Euro 2016, they were not called upon by Deschamps for France’s trip to Borisov, whilst their replacements were Geoffrey Kondogbia, Kevin Gameiro, Layvin Kurzawa, Sebastien Corchia, Alphonse Areola, Raphael Varane, Djibril Sidibe and Ousmane Dembele, respectively.

Improvement to be sought by Euro 2016 finalists in upcoming qualifiers

Given the number of alterations Deschamps has made to his squad, the 2018 World Cup Qualifying campaign could potentially be a transitional one for France, who similar to Portugal will aspire to avenge their disappointing start by producing improved performances in their upcoming qualifiers against Bulgaria and the Netherlands, which are set to take place next month.

The first of those games takes place at the Stade de France on 7 October, whilst three days later Les Bleus will face Danny Blind’s Dutch side in Amsterdam.  Similar to France, Oranje opened their qualification campaign with a draw, as their game with Sweden ended 1-1, whilst Bulgaria won a thrilling encounter against Luxembourg 4-3.

On that basis, France’s qualification group is set to be characterized by great competitiveness.  So too is Portugal’s, since the Faroe Islands held Hungary to a goalless draw, whilst Latvia only narrowly defeated Andorra 1-0.

Therefore in order to reach the 2018 World Cup finals, both France and Portugal will require to recover from indifferent starts to their qualification campaigns and assert their authority and quality in extremely challenging group.

History proves a veteran striker is needed to win World Cup or European Championships

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It’s been twelve years since that dramatic day at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, when Portugal’s dream of winning the European Championship on home soil were crushed by a surprising Greek team. Greece won the 2004 final 1-0 with a goal by Angelos Charisteas, making a young Cristiano Ronaldo cry like a child.

Experience needed

However, Portugal got their redemption, as they are finally the kings of European football. The Selecao beat hosts France in the Euro 2016 final by the same score as the one in 2004: 1-0. A goal in extra time by Eder did the job for Ronaldo and his teammates, handing France the same fate: losing a European Championships final on home soil.

Maybe it had something to do with experience. Or maybe not. That 2004 Portugal team had very experienced star players, like Luis Figo and Deco. And they played 29-year-old Pauleta in attack, just like Les Bleus played 29-year-old Olivier Giroud next to Antoine Griezmann (25).

It’s an historical fact that teams who reached the final of the Euros or a World Cup this century have had at least one striker above the age of 27 starting the game. The only exception to this rule was Spain, who started a 24-year-old Fernando Torres during the Euro 2008 final against Germany.

Belgium’s problem

This seems to be a big issue for a nation like Belgium. The Red Devils, with new coach Roberto Martinez, have four strikers in their current squad: Christian Benteke (25), Romelu Lukaku (23), Michy Batshuayi (22), and Divock Origi (21). Belgium were one of the favourites to win Euro 2016 but were eliminated by Wales in the quarter-finals, suffering the same fate during the 2014 World Cup against Argentina.

Beneteke will be 27 when the 2018 World Cup arrives, meaning it would be wise for Martinez to play the Crystal Palace striker. However, the Spanish manager seems to rely on a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Lukaku (then 25) as his first option.

If history repeats itself, Belgium won’t make it to the final. Unless, they play as great as the 2008 Spain team… Yeah, right.

The numbers:

European Championships 2000

France: Christophe Dugarry (28)

Italy: Marco Delvecchio (27) – Francesco Totti (23)

World Cup 2002

Brazil: Rivaldo (30) – Ronaldo (25)

Germany: Oliver Neuville (29) – Miroslav Klose (24)

European Championships 2004

Greece: Zisis Vryzas (30) – Stelios Giannakopoulos (30) – Angelos Charisteas (24)

Portugal: Pauleta (29)

World Cup 2006

Italy: Francesco Toni (29) – Luca Totti (29)

France: Thierry Henry (29)

European Championships 2008

Spain: Fernando Torres (24)

Germany: Miroslav Klose (30)

World Cup 2010

Spain: David Villa (28)

Holland: Robin Van Persie (27)

European Championships 2012

Spain: Andres Iniesta (28) – David Silva (26)

Italy: Antonio Cassano (30) – Mario Balotelli (22)

World Cup 2014

Germany: Miroslav Klose (36)

Argentina: Gonzalo Higuain (26) – Lionel Messi (27)

European Championships 2016

Portugal: Cristiano Ronaldo (31) – Nani (29)

France: Olivier Giroud (29) – Antoine Griezmann (25)

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Verratti must become a key Azzurri figure

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It was a substitution the home fans were pleased to see. While Italy were losing in Giampiero Ventura’s first match in charge against France, and would go on to lose 3-1, the arrival of Marco Verratti just past the hour mark was a welcome return.

The midfielder had been forced to miss much of the 2015-16 campaign and subsequently Euro 2016 through injury. It was a blow for the Italians, who nonetheless performed well in the tournament.

His entrance on Thursday was positive for Ventura and the new Azzurri era. And well-timed. As Verratti returned, Daniele De Rossi sustained an injury which rules him out of tonight’s opening World Cup qualifier against Israel. Verratti, so long threatening to break into the Nazionale limelight, now has a fantastic opportunity.

Since his swashbuckling displays for Pescara which led to a risky, but rewarding move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2012, Verratti has been seen as the brightest young talents in Italy. He played twice at World Cup 2014, but Andrea Pirlo’s international u-turn under new boss Antonio Conte meant Verratti had to bide his time. He made five Euro 2016 qualifying appearances and with Pirlo out of favour, only injury kept Verratti from a starting spot.

With both De Rossi and Claudio Marchisio absent, this is Verratti’s time to shine. In Ventura, Italy have a boss not afraid to give younger players a chance, something some past tacticians have been guilty of. As Ventura said on Sunday, while Conte took over on the back of three Scudetto triumphs at Juventus he had ‘victories’ of his own at Torino: seeing budding talents progress to Europe’s biggest clubs and to the national team.

The stars are aligning. And Verratti, who has won championships in France and made it to the latter stages of the Champions League, is ready for Italy’s upcoming test. It’s a difficult group which also includes Spain and fellow Euro 2016 qualifiers Albania. The opening match away to Israel is tricky, but also a must-win with La Furia Roja visiting Turin next month.

The 23-year-old has taken on responsibility in France and is ready to do so for the Azzurri. “The role I play in is not important. What matters is doing what the coach asks of me so I can do what’s best for the team. I do like Ventura’s way of understanding football.”

Always appearing at consummate ease in possession, Verratti has the quality to add to what many would suggest is a low tally of just 16 Azzurri caps. He can become their central lynchpin.

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Ventura leads Italian evolution, not revolution

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A new era begins this Thursday, as Giampiero Ventura takes charge of Italy for the first time. The former Torino boss comes up against France in a friendly in Bari, preparation for the upcoming opening World Cup qualifier away to Israel.

The mood surrounding the Azzurri is happier these days. Italy shrugged off major criticism heading into Euro 2016 to perform well under now Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. Eliminated on penalties in the Quarter-finals by Germany, the feeling is if that got over that hurdle the trophy would have been in reach.

Conte was stout in his devotion to the unit. There was no room for the individual; all would have to function for the collective. He was loyal to players he felt could help the group.

That meant there was no room for some of the bright talent coming through the ranks at clubs on the peninsula. It is something Ventura has addressed in his first squad – while still following the Conte framework. Gianluigi Donnarumma, Alessio Romagnoli, Daniele Rugani, and Andrea Belotti are included in the squad, while Federico Bernardeschi is retained from Euro 2016 and Marco Verratti returns from injury.

It is a spine of a team which could well be part of the Azzurri setup for the next decade. But there are notable names left out, as Ventura retains Conte’s primarily used 3-5-2 system.

In that formation Ventura not only continues where he left off at Torino, but builds from the Juventus backline of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli – Ventura convinced the latter to come out of retirement. However, further forward that means no space for Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Berardi and Stephan El Shaarawy.

“El Shaarawy went to Euro 2016, but there was no role in the 3-5-2 for him,” the new coach said on Monday. “The same holds true for Berardi. As long as the formation is this, it will be difficult for [wide] attackers to find a place.”

Ventura went on to explain he wanted to call up as much of the Euro 2016 squad as possible, as he seeks a good start to what is a tough qualifying group. One which also contains Euro 2016 qualifiers Spain and Albania. The question is whether Ventura will be rigid going forward or if this is a short-term measure aimed at instant points.

Conte fell short in bringing through some of the next generation, offering only fleeting game time. For now it is very much an evolution of the work he did over the past two years. Long term, will we see more of a revolution for the Azzurri?

Is Kingsley Coman set to become one of the world’s best players?

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After the ashes have settled and the disappointment for the French team losing on home turf in the Euro 2016 final there are still some positives to take from Les Bleus tournament.

One of course is the rising emergence of players such as Dimitri Payet, surplus to requirements at Marseille they sold him to Premier League club West Ham United where he was supposed to start his journeyman career. But Payet it seems has blossomed late on and looks a good deal for any club now or in the future.

Antoine Griezmann we already knew about- here is a player that continuously lights up the Cauldron a stadium in which he is the orchestrator for his club Atletico Madrid. Samuel Umtiti almost unheard of outside Ligue 1 had an outstanding tournament and his reward was a move to Barcelona.

And then there is Kingsley Coman. He was 19 when the Euro’s started and 20 when it finished and literally went from teenager to adult in that time. French coach Didier Deschamps was hesitant to use the attacking winger, for fear of his youth, never starting him in a game. And so he quickly became known as the super sub, but what a sub.

Each time Coman was unleashed onto the pitch he was able to inject countless amounts of energy into the team. He was quick, decisive, made the right pass and rarely lost the ball and he didn’t seem to phase him at all that he was playing in his first ever major tournament.

Whilst there is talk of his countryman Paul Pogba going back to Manchester United for upwards of £100 million, some of Europe’s elite could do no wrong to keep one eye on this kid. Thing of it is, the elite already have him under their wings.

Coman came through the PSG ranks but with the bottomless pit of money and proven talent at the squad and he being just 17 he was sold on to Juventus. Juve in turn gave him just 15 appearances before coming to the decision to loan him out to German giants Bayern Munich. This season he will start his second and probably last season with the Bavarians. The reason is that if Juventus don’t call Coman back the player will be available to Munich for just £20 million. A bargain that feels more like theft given the humongous transfers of the past few weeks.

If Pogba does, as expected leave Juventus, the Old Lady will surely recall Coman back. He looks like the back bone, the hope and the glory for the French national team in the coming years.

There are not many players in world football right now that when they receive the ball you can’t quite anticipate what will follow next, he loves his football and we love the excitement he gives us- stardust is Coman.

UEFA announces Euro 2016 awardees and team of the tournament

Antoine Griezmann France Euro 2016

The title of UEFA’s Euro 2016 player of the tournament has been awarded to the French striker Antoine Greizmann, as reported by the Independent.

Great Greizmann

Griezmann also finished the tournament with the Golden Boot as he scored six goals, which was double that of any other player, to help France make the final.

Despite not being able to score in the final, whilst missing a great opportunity to do so with a header as France lost 1-0 to Portugal, Greizmann’s earned the award of the tournament’s most outstanding player by producing a series of excellent performances throughout Les Bleus campaign and particularly during their knock-out phase wins against the Republic of Ireland, Iceland and Germany.

Superb Sanches

Ultimately an unfitting end to a fantastic tournament transpired for Greizmann, whilst Portugal’s Renato Sanches enjoyed an altogether happier conclusion to his first major international finals. Specifically at 18 years and 328 days old, the Bayern Munich midfielder became the youngest ever European Championship finalist and winner, whilst also winning the Young Player of the Tournament award ahead of his France’s Kingsley Coman and fellow Portuguese Raphael Guerriero.

Team of the Tournament

The 22-year-old left back, who recently signed for Borussia Dortmund from Ligue 1 side Lorient, has also been included in UEFA’s team of the tournament, with three other Portuguese players featuring. They are goalkeeper Rui Patricio, centre back Pepe and Cristiano Ronaldo, whilst the German trio of Joshua Kimmich, Jerome Boateng and Toni Kroos also made the team, along with the Welsh duo of Joe Allen and Aaron Ramsey. The other two remaining members of the side selected by an expert panel of Fifa delegates, which included Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes and Gareth Southgate, were Dimitri Payet and Greizmann of France.

Close of an excellent tournament

As such the distribution of UEFA’s awards and announcement of their team of the tournament, represents the final chapter of an excellent 2016 European Championships, which presented wonderful entertainment and an abundance of memorable moments.

 

 

 

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.