Cometh the hour, cometh the man, the Atletico Madrid player Antoine Griezmann who has indifferent form at the club level has come to his own at FIFA World Cup for France, thanks to the way coach Didier Deschamps is handling him and the tactical roes he assigned to him.
Griezmann’s form, along that of While Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud, will be a key element when the defending champions take on tournament surprise semi-finalists Morocco on Wednesday night as they aim to become the first European nation to reach successive World Cup finals since Italy in 1938.
“Yes, he’s had a great tournament, but we’ll need him to be just as good [on Wednesday],” Deschamps said in response to a question at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference.
“He’s the type of player who can really change a team because he’s so hard-working and so technically gifted. He’s playing a slightly different role in this World Cup, but it suits him well,” he added.
“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. Like all world-class players, he’s at his best in the most important games,” he said about the former Barcelona player.
Griezmann has so far played a key role in Deschamps scheme of things creating 17 chances, the most by anyone at the tournament, including two assists against England in the quarter-finals which took his team two matches away from retraining the title they won four years back.
Another player who has impressed at the World Cup for The Bleus happens to be defender Dayot Upamecano of Bayern Munich. Although a regular at the German giants, from the age of 18, he could not find a place in the senior team until he turned 22.
“Dayot did have an issue with his mental strength, which I think prevented him from being the top player we knew he could become,” Deschamps said.
“He’s managed to overcome those challenges, he feels more relaxed, more confident. I do think that’s what helped him reach his best level and show the qualities he has. He’s very fit, good in tackling, good at passing. Sometimes he tries to overdo things a bit with his passing, is too ambitious, but he listens to advice, he’s open-minded, relaxed, happy.
“Some players can be introverted in nature like him, and so maybe they need more time to develop and flourish. But I’m quite convinced when a player has potential that it will end up flourishing even if sometimes I must recognize there are other players in the squad who can also be very strong and have their role to play.
“So yes, he’s been through challenging times, but he’s now relaxed, more confident and showing he’s a top player.”