DOHA ( Associated Press) — Antoine Griezmann is enjoying his new role as France’s creative rather than worrying about scoring goals.
Griezmann is the third leading scorer for the national team with 42 goals, but in Qatar he has played as a right midfielder in a 4-3-3 formation and is yet to score. Looking at the Round of 16 against Poland on Sunday, he is not stressed about it.
“I don’t have to put my mind to figuring out how I’m going to score, the team needs me more in creation,” Griezmann said on Friday. “I enjoy being the link between midfield and attack, I’m more in a role where I drop back and try to help others.”
While other players may complain about the change of position, it is no sacrifice for Griezmann, who is in his third straight World Cup and preparing to play his 114th cap.
“I’m here to do what the coach tells me to do. I’m proud to wear the shirt and make the coach proud”, said the player. “I want to make things as easy as possible for my teammates. I’m in good physical shape and I feel better mentally when that happens.”
Griezmann has always been close to Deschamps, who supported him during his slump last season. The relationship with the coach has become stronger.
“He is a very reliable coach, which is one of his strengths,” Griezmann said. “He likes to talk to his players and knows how you feel.”
Griezmann last scored for Les Bleus in a friendly against Kazakhstan last November.
Griezmann thought the drought had ended when he scored in injury time in last Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Tunisia, but referee Mathieu Conger ruled it out after consulting the video.
The relaxed Griezmann didn’t attach much importance to it.
“I think I was one of the first players to have a goal disallowed by VAR,” recalled a smiling Griezmann. “I couldn’t celebrate like I wanted to, but we were already classified.”
The French Football Federation filed a complaint with FIFA for disallowing the goal.
Like Griezmann, striker Kylian Mbappe scored four goals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, both of which he scored in the final. Although Griezmann is happy to be out of the limelight, the same is not possible for his team-mate.
Griezmann said, “Kylian is no longer the same player or person.” “Everything he does is being analyzed by the press, but he is not wrong.”
Griezmann is getting better with Mbappe, whom he helped set up a goal in a 2-1 win over Denmark in the second game of the group stage.
“I’m starting to understand more and more what he wants,” Griezmann said.
While Mbappe is just 23 and could play at least a few more World Cups, Griezmann, 31, joked that he might not be in top shape when looking ahead to 2026.
“Maybe I already have a few more kilos,” Griezmann said.