Wednesday 19 September 2018

'I want a second star to be on this shirt, I don't care how' - Griezmann defends France style ahead of final

Antoine Griezmann believes the result is all that matters in Sunday’s World Cup final (David Vincent/AP)
Antoine Griezmann believes the result is all that matters in Sunday’s World Cup final (David Vincent/AP)

Antoine Griezmann has hit back at criticism of France playing "anti-football" under Didier Deschamps and insists it does not matter how Les Bleus go about trying to beat Croatia in the World Cup final on Sunday.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and captain Eden Hazard both lamented the way France approached their semi-final in St Petersburg.

A second-half header from Samuel Umtiti proved enough for a 1-0 win, despite Deschamps' side conceding large amounts of possession to their European rivals.

Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann, however, maintains France will do whatever it takes to lift the World Cup for a second time in Moscow on Sunday.

"Thibaut Courtois, he played at Atletico, he was a Spanish champion. With Chelsea, does he believe he is playing the football of Barcelona?" Griezmann said at a press conference, broadcast by the France Football Federation.

"I don't care how. I want a second star to be on this shirt, and if I have the star, I do not care about the game we have done."

Griezmann believes France's progress has been built on a collective team effort throughout the group.

"We thought we needed to be a solid block, hard to beat. It is improved over time," the 27-year-old said.

"We know that we can be offensive at any moment, but the defence remains our base."

Croatia needed extra time in each of their knockout matches, coming through 2-1 in their semi-final against England on Wednesday night.

Griezmann expects coach Deschamps, who won the World Cup as a player in 1998, to be ready for the challenge ahead at the Luzhniki Stadium.

"He knows the way. We believe in him, we trust him," the forward said.

"He prepares the matches well and has made strong choices in this competition, especially with Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez. His choices are paying off, and I hope it will continue."

France could be set for a weekend of celebration, with Sunday's final following on from the July 14 Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees.

A massive fan-zone around the Parc du Champ de Mars, near the Eiffel Tower, will show the Croatia match on giant screens, as an expectant nation seeks a repeat of their triumph on home soil 20 years ago.

Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi should be involved on Sunday after being forced off against Belgium following a heavy collision with Hazard.

Matuidi, 31, reckons victory - should France achieve it - should be dedicated to the whole nation.

"The diversity that we have in this team is in the image of our beautiful country, France. We proudly represent France. For us, that's superb," he said at a press conference.

"The good atmosphere prevailing in the group is reflected on the field. We fight for each other - it's our great strength.

"We want to make efforts for others and this has brought us to play in the final.

"Even those who play less are happy for others. This is the state of mind of a family that flows in the team."

Press Association

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