Deschamps 'not worried' about Griezmann as France gear up for Nations League Finals

By Sports Desk October 04, 2021

Didier Deschamps is not worried about Antoine Griezmann's lack of form ahead of France's Nations League Finals campaign this week.

The 30-year-old returned to Atletico Madrid from Barcelona in a high-profile transfer at the end of August following two largely underwhelming campaigns at Camp Nou.

Griezmann was expected to revive his career in the Spanish capital, but he has managed just one goal and no assists in seven appearances in his second spell with Atletico.

That solitary strike came in last week's 2-1 win over Milan in the Champions League, though he was again left out of Atletico's starting lineup for Saturday's showdown with Barcelona.

He has been named in Deschamps' 23-man squad for this week's Nations League Finals, which will see France face Belgium in the semi-finals on Thursday.

Les Blues will then either take on Italy or Spain in Sunday's final or third-placed play-off, depending on the outcome of both semi-finals.

And Deschamps has no concerns about using Griezmann, who has 41 goals in 98 caps for France, in those matches.

"His goal in the Champions League was very positive," Deschamps said at a news conference on Monday. "Even though he didn't start, that goal will give him confidence.

"He has returned to a club he knows well, but with different players around him. He can't just click his fingers.

"But because of his qualities and state of mind, I do not worry about him. I know he will be happy to join up with the France team."

Griezmann played a full part for France in their World Cup semi-final clash with Belgium en route to lifting the trophy in 2018, setting up Samuel Umtiti's winning goal.

The Nations League presents France with a chance to add to that triumph, having exited Euro 2020 at the last-16 stage, but they must overcome two sides ranked in the world's top eight.

"There is a title at stake; we have a semi-final to play against one of the best teams in the world," he said. 

"With Italy and Spain on the other side, there are four of us fighting for this title. We did everything to qualify for this final phase in a very tough group. 

"We want to get this title. Before there were two titles: the Euros and the World Cup. Now there is the Nations League. Winning it is our goal."

Belgium have named a vastly experienced squad for the Finals, with Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel, Toby Alderweireld and Eden Hazard all boasting over 100 caps.

Roberto Martinez's men only reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020, where they were beaten by tournament winners Italy – their only defeat in 17 matches and one of only two defeats in 31 games since November 2018.

Ranked number one in the world, Deschamps acknowledged France face a big task against Belgium on Thursday.

"They have evolved well, with six or seven players on 100 or more caps," he said. "They are the best team in the FIFA rankings and have a very experienced core.

"It is a beautiful generation of players, but one that has not yet had the happiness of success at the Euros or World Cup."

Deschamps added: "It's going to be a fight at a physical, tactical and technical level. There is a lot of respect between myself and Roberto Martinez and also between the players.

"But there is of course a rivalry there because we are border countries, which we also have with Italy and Spain.

"There was also the 2018 semi-final we played, but this match cannot change what happened then. That will not have too much importance this week."

Related items

  • Madrid, Man Utd or Liverpool? Monaco star Tchouameni non-committal on his future amid transfer speculation Madrid, Man Utd or Liverpool? Monaco star Tchouameni non-committal on his future amid transfer speculation

    Monaco prospect Aurelien Tchouameni remained non-committal over his future amid growing speculation of interest from Real Madrid, Manchester United and Liverpool.

    Tchouameni came through the Bordeaux academy before joining Monaco in 2020 on a four-and-a-half-year deal.

    The midfielder has appeared 34 times in Ligue 1 this campaign, with only Wissam Ben Yedder (36) and goalkeeper Alexander Nubel (37) featuring more for Philippe Clement's side.

    The 22-year-old Tchouameni represents a threat at both ends of the pitch, leading Monaco's charts for successful opposition-half passes (912), while making the most tackles (84) and winning the most duels (258).

    That presence has led to interest from the likes of Madrid, where fellow France youngster Eduardo Camavinga joined last season, Liverpool and United, who are reportedly also interested in Declan Rice.

    Tchouameni, speaking at the annual Union Nationale des Footballeurs Professionels (UNFP) award ceremony in Paris, where he was named in Ligue 1's Team of the Year, played his cards close to his chest on his future.

    "Good question. I have a contract with Monaco," he said when asked about the transfer speculation.

    "I'm very good there. The most important thing is to finish the season well. We'll do the accounts at the end and we'll see what the future holds for me."

    Tchouameni and Monaco conclude their French top-flight season with a trip to Lens on Saturday, with Clement's side second in the table, ahead of Marseille on a goal difference.

  • Sounders kick-start MLS season, Buksa strikes twice in entertaining New England draw Sounders kick-start MLS season, Buksa strikes twice in entertaining New England draw

    The Seattle Sounders claimed a vital win to kick-start their MLS season, springing to life in the second half to defeat Minnesota United 3-1 at home.

    Goals from Raul Ruidiaz, Nico Lodeiro and Cristian Roldan handed the Sounders a critical three points, after winning two of their opening eight games in the league.

    Despite the majority of possession in the opening 45 minutes, they went into the interval down 1-0 after Robin Lod scored in the 34th minute.

    The recent CONCACAF Champions League winners were then awarded a penalty which Raul Ruidiaz converted in the 50th minute and they snatched the lead with a long-range blast from Cristian Roldan in the 74th.

    Lodeiro sealed the victory for the Sounders in fourth minute of stoppage time, getting on the end of Roldan's incisive cross.

    Following wins for the Colorado Rapids and Houston Dynamo, the Sounders needed the three points and remain five points from the Western Conference's last playoff spot in 11th.

    After a back-and-forth contest where both sides had the lead, meanwhile, Atlanta United and the New England Revolution drew 2-2 in Sunday's MLS action.

    It was Atlanta who jumped ahead early through Thiago Almada's terrific strike from outside the box 15 minutes in, before Adam Buksa equalised for New England 15 minutes later from a tough angle.

    Buksa put New England in front with his second goal, coming 10 minutes into the second half, but it would be short-lived as Atlanta's Luiz Araujo equalised eight minutes later, tying things up in the 63rd minute.

    There would be another pair of golden chances down the stretch, as Buksa blew his chance at a hat trick in the 83rd minute as he missed from inside the six-yard box, before Araujo missed almost an identical chance down the other end less than a minute later.

    The action-packed spectacle featured a combined 40 shots, with Atlanta the more hard-done-by of the two sides, finishing with 26 shots to New England's 14, and 1.81 expected goals to New England's 1.12.

    With the draw, Atlanta held on to seventh place in the Eastern Conference, while New England is down in 11th.

  • Inzaghi says anything can happen after Inter take Scudetto race to the wire Inzaghi says anything can happen after Inter take Scudetto race to the wire

    Simone Inzaghi said Inter still believe they can retain the Scudetto after Lautaro Martinez's brace helped the Nerazzurri beat Cagliari and take the Serie A title race to the wire.

    After watching Milan beat Atalanta 2-0 at San Siro, the Nerazzurri had to win in Sardinia to avoid ceding their domestic crown to their rivals, but Martinez followed up Matteo Darmian's opener with a second-half double as Inter claimed a hard-fought 3-1 win to keep their hopes intact.

    Inter have now won seven of their past eight league games, but must beat Sampdoria and hope Sassuolo defeat the Rossoneri on the final day to win their 20th top-flight title.

    Inzaghi won one Serie A title during his playing career, scoring when Sven Goran Eriksson's Lazio claimed a dramatic title triumph on the final day of the 1999-00 season, beating Reggina 3-0 to overturn a two-point deficit to Juventus, who lost 1-0 to Perugia. 

    The former striker says that success is proof that anything can happen on the final day, and praised his team for putting in a composed performance just days after beating Juventus to win the Coppa Italia.

    "There is still one game missing, the team believes in it. We know that it has already happened, it has already happened to me," Inzaghi told his post-match press conference.

    "We believe in it until the end, and we will prepare it in the best possible way. Today we had a very good game two days after celebrating a trophy. In front of us we had a Cagliari team that was playing for survival and nothing was taken for granted, but I have a great team. 

    "I won a Scudetto against Lazio that I was two points behind [with one game left] and Juve lost to Perugia on the last day. In football you must never give up, we have always shown it."

    Inter's win means they have taken 39 points from their 19 away games in Serie A this season, the same amount they earned when winning the title under Antonio Conte last term.

    This represents the Nerazzurri's joint-third best away return in a single Serie A season (in the era of three points for a win), after they took 49 points in 2006-07 and 43 in 2019-20.

    Speaking to DAZN in the immediate aftermath of the win, Inzaghi had also heaped praise on two-goal hero Martinez after his match-winning performance.

    "I think he's got 25 goals this year. He has scored 13 goals in his last 13. The team put him in a position to score, he is a champion, he is very important for us and the team," he said.

    "He was good because even in the period in which he was unable to score, he worked hard, and now you can see the results."

    Martinez's tally of 25 goals in all competitions this season is at least eight better than any other Nerazzurri player (Edin Dzeko is second with 17), and the Argentine has become just the sixth Inter player to hit 20 goals in a Serie A season before turning 25 years of age, after Giuseppe Meazza, Sandro Mazzola, Antonio Angelillo, Ronaldo and Mauro Icardi. 

    While the striker acknowledged Inter had dropped points in games they should have won this season, he too holds out hope of a dramatic final-day triumph next Sunday.

    "We have lost points in matches in which we have done well, but in every competition we have played good football and done the work we wanted," the striker told DAZN.

    "The points lost are behind us, now there is one last home game with our fans, and we have to finish the championship in the best way."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.