The unsung hero powering France to victory

The French blue wave will yet again descend on the World Cup Final early Monday morning where they will face an inspired Lionel Messi and Argentina.

For France, this will be their fourth World Cup final since 1998 and they will be looking to become the first back-to-back winners of the World Cup since Brazil achieved the feat in 1958 and 1962.

The un to the final though has not been without its challenges including pre-tournament injuries to Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema and influential midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.

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The style of play which has been adopted by manager Didier Deschamps rarely excites the purists but is devastating in its effectiveness wherein the individual talent of the French team cripples’ opponents with one moment of precision.

Headline acts within the French team including Kylian Mbappe and the ageless Olivier Giroud have stolen most of the plaudits for their goal scoring feats during the tournament.

One player though that has been integral to France’s run to the final is Antoine Griezmann despite him being deployed as a midfield playmaker.

Deschamps always believed that Griezmann had the ability to play in midfield and that vision came to fruition at the start of this World Cup.

“Griezmann has been unbelievable – I’d say he’s the Silver Ball, for the second best player of the tournament, because what Messi’s been doing is stounding,” former Australian captain Craig Foster told Wide World of Sports.

“His defensive work, he’s worked incredibly hard – and don’t forget, both he and Giroud have to do a lot of work to adjust for Mbappe, who always sits high and on the left, ready for that counter-attack.”

Heading into the World Cup Griezmann’s club form for Atletico Madrid had been far from inspiring but Deschamps never doubted his ability to deliver for France despite Griezmann losing the explosiveness of a top-class forward.

France get early goal

Deschamps reiterated Griezmann’s importance to the French team before France’s 2-0 semi-final win over Morocco.

“He’s someone who always thinks of the team above everything else. He’s extremely hard working, probably more so than most players. He’s been an elite player for 10 years now.

“Of course, he’s gone through challenging times like any player, but he’s mentally very strong.”

Deschamps belief in Griezmann has seen him play 72 consecutive games since 2017 for the French national team, and his performances in Qatar has only justified this faith.

Griezmann has been a player re-born wherein his ability to find space between the lines and create goal -scoring opportunities for his teammates has seen him become the first player in Qatar to create 20 or more chances.

His man of the match performance in the semi-final against Morocco saw him heavily involved in France’s first goal while his ability to track back and help his defense highlighted a player fully immersed in the role which has been assigned to him.

Deschamps will be aware that if France are to lift the World Cup again and deny Messi the dream ending to his international career, they will need their own genius playmaker to be at his very best.

Griezmann has shown throughout his career that he has the ability to step up and deliver when his team most needs him, and for all of France’s qualities Griezmann has shown throughout the tournament that he is the key to unlocking opponents defenses and allowing France’s much vaunted attack to capitalize.

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