By virtue two excellent performances during the knock-out stages, Antoine Griezmann has established himself as one of the stars of Euro 2016. Nevertheless in order to do so, the Atletico Madrid forward has resolutely overcome a number of challenges.
Greizmann’s indifferent group stage form
Specifically less than a fortnight before Euro 2016, Griezmann missed a penalty in Atletico’s Champions League Final defeat to Real Madrid, before being dropped to the bench for France’s second game of the tournament against Albania, following a muted display in Les Bleus opening game against Romania.
Despite then emerging from the bench to score a header against the Albanians to help France to a 2-0 victory, Griezmann performed poorly as Didier Deschamps’ side ended the group phase with a goalless draw against Switzerland.
Rediscovering golden touch
Nevertheless, Deschamps showed great faith in Griezmann by retaining the 25-year-old in his staring XI for the last 16 encounter with the Republic of Ireland.
That proved to be an inspired decision as Griezmann emphatically repaid his manager’s faith by scoring two expertly taken goals and producing a man-of-the-match performance as France won 2-1.
There was much to be admired in the manner in which they did so, since after trailing at half time, Les Bleus produced a vastly improved second half performance, with Griezmann being the chief architect of that revival. After scoring twice against Ireland, Griezmann became the first French player to score three goals at a European Championship since Zinedine Zidane did at Euro 2004.
Buoyed by his return to form against the Irish, Griezmann was again instrumental in France’s 5-2 quarter final victory over Iceland. That was particularly the case during the first half, at the end of which he scored to become the tournament’s top scorer with four goals, one ahead of team mates Olivier Giroud, Dimitri Payet, whilst Gareth Bale of Wales and Spain’s Alvaro Morata also have three goals.
Giroud and Griezmann double act
Prior to his goal against Iceland at the Stade de France, Griezmann’s had not found the net for his country at the ground in 648 minutes of football, but he ended that barren run with a deft finish, following excellent link-up play with Giroud.
The level of understanding between the pair during the victories over Ireland and Iceland has been excellent, as they’ve formed a partnership of great value to the French side, who are gradually progressing towards finding their best form, as too is Griezmann.
The former Real Sociedad player is now, along with his French team – mates, preparing to play Germany in the semi-finals of Euro 2016 at the Stade de France. The last time the two teams met was at the same venue last November on the night of the Paris terrorist attacks which centred upon the Bataclan Theatre. Caught up in but surviving that atrocity was Griezmann’s sister Maude.
Subsequently Griezmann has overcome distress in his personal life and an indifferent start to Euro 2016 to become one of the tournament’s star performers. That is a status he will seek to consolidate by producing another all action display against Germany.