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Antoine Griezmann’s Atletico stay is good news for France, says Didier Deschamps

By June 15, 2018No Comments

France boss Didier Deschamps believes Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann is ready to set the World Cup alight after ending speculation about his club future.

Griezmann had been heavily linked with a 100million euros (£88million) move to Barcelona, having last year been a reported target for Manchester United.

But the 27-year-old confirmed his decision to extend his four-year stay with Europa League winners Atletico on the eve of this summer’s tournament.

Antoine Griezmann’s Atletico stay is good news for France, says Didier Deschamps PLZ Soccer
France coach Didier Deschamps is relieved Antoine Griezmann’s future has been resolved (David Vincent/AP)

Les Bleus, who boast one of the strongest squads in the competition, open their campaign against Australia on Saturday, and Deschamps is pleased Griezmann’s future has now been sorted.

“Two things that come to mind are Antoine’s loyalty and commitment to Atletico,” Deschamps said. “Most importantly he has freed his mind and he goes to the World Cup without any worries.

“That is great news for his club and for France, too.”

Griezmann, who had said he would clarify his future before the World Cup, revealed he would be staying put during a Spanish television documentary called ‘The Decision’ aired on Thursday evening.

The television programme documented Griezmann’s deliberations about his future over a two-month period heading into the World Cup.

“I didn’t know anything about the television show,” Deschamps said. “To be honest with you, I already have a lot of other things to occupy myself with at the moment.”

France have lost only one of their last 12 matches, and will start among the favourites to win the tournament.

Deschamps has used a steady 4-4-2 formation, but could unleash Paris St Germain’s Kylian Mbappe, Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele and Griezmann in a mouth-watering front three.

“There are no strong choices, but only choices, based on what I think is the best for France,” Deschamps added.

“We must have a collective animation to be dangerous for our opponent so we create opportunities to score.

“Of the 23 players present, 14 have never played in the finals, but they are in big clubs and are used to great competitions and high level. They have the qualities to be there.”

Australia coach Bert van Marwijk has had only four friendlies in charge of the national team after he was drafted in to replace Ange Postecoglou in January.

The Socceroos were heavily beaten in his first game in charge, but the Dutchman oversaw three victories in their other matches.

Van Marwijk may drop captain Mile Jedinak for their opener against France, and perhaps tellingly the Crystal Palace defender did not, as was scheduled, address the media alongside his manager on Friday.

“I am not going to talk about tactics and our plan against France,” Van Marwijk said. “Our first goal is to survive the group.

“We shouldn’t go into (Saturday’s) match thinking we will lose. You must believe in something.

“Normally if we play 10 times against France maybe we will lose eight or nine times, but we have worked hard to get into a situation where we lose five or six times, and can win a few and draw, too.

“When you are well organised, you believe in something. Everybody knows what they are doing, so you have the guts to be yourself, and then you have a chance.”