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Deschamps welcomes Griezmann into France fold

Published: Monday 3 March 2014, 21.20CET
"Clinical, comfortable on either side and tactically very aware" – Antoine Griezmann has the lot according to Didier Deschamps, who could hand the 22-year-old his France debut this week.
by Christian Châtelet
from Paris
Deschamps welcomes Griezmann into France fold
Antoine Griezmann has played more than 160 league games for La Real ©AFP/Getty Images

Published: Monday 3 March 2014, 21.20CET

Deschamps welcomes Griezmann into France fold

"Clinical, comfortable on either side and tactically very aware" – Antoine Griezmann has the lot according to Didier Deschamps, who could hand the 22-year-old his France debut this week.

Antoine Griezmann could be the missing piece of the jigsaw; the left-sided Franck Ribéry; the cherry on the cake for Dider Deschamps and France.

Griezmann is in Deschamps' senior France squad for the first time and looks likely to make his senior international debut in Wednesday's friendly against the Netherlands in Saint Denis. The winger caught the eye helping Real Sociedad de Fútbol back into the Spanish top flight in 2009/10 and underpinning their progress all the way into this season's UEFA Champions League group stage. His fine form has continued this term, 15 goals putting the 22-year-old fourth alongside Lionel Messi in the Liga scoring charts.

"He is very clinical, scores a lot of goals and creates a lot of goals," said Deschamps. "He is equally comfortable on either side and through the middle. On top of that, he is tactically very aware – that's why I called him up." Deschamps, no doubt, harbours hopes that Griezmann could turn out to be as effective on the left as Ribéry on the right.

The Macon native has gradually come to prominence in recent years, but made a real name for himself in this season's UEFA Champions League play-offs. La Real emerged as 4-0 aggregate winners against the Ligue 1 side, Griezmann opening the first-leg scoring with a stunning bicycle kick.

His arrival in the senior setup was delayed by a suspension imposed on him and a handful of other players when on Under-21 duty. "It's in the past and only the future matters," said Griezmann. "A World Cup in Brazil is the kind of thing you dream of." How did he learn of his inclusion? "I was watching TV and then a dream came true."

As for the player's potential impact on Wednesday and beyond, Francis Smerecki, the man who coached Griezmann and company to victory at the 2010 UEFA European Under-19 Championship on home soil, thinks he is the real deal. "He is efficient in front of goal, he knows how to be in the right place at the right time," said Smerecki. "He has two good feet, he knows when to go alone and he knows how to bring others into the game." 

Last updated: 08/05/14 1.33CET

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