France's Antoine Griezmann hoping to make a mark against Lionel Messi's Argentina

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Antoine Griezmann hasn’t had a memorable time at the World Cup so far, after a series of back-to-back average performances, as France approach round of 16 meeting with Argentina.

The Atletico Madrid forward has looked far from his best during the group stage of the competition, while his countrymen Olivier Giroud suggested Griezmann was not at his physical best after having endured a long season making almost 60 appearances for club and country.

Recently midfielder Paul Pogba, who has had his share of criticism to deal with, came to Griezmann’s defence.

“Don’t touch my Grizou,” Pogba said with a smile last week. “You’ve forgotten the Euro.”

The 27-year old was the top goalscorer at Euro 2016, however, five of his six goals came in the knockout stages.

“Just because he didn’t score in the last match doesn’t mean he’s not the same Grizou,” Pogba said after the 1-0 win over Peru.

Griezmann had spoken about his form as he aims to go all the way with France’s talented side in Russia.

“I hope to raise my level again in the last 16,” he said.

Griezmann's hand

“It was the same at the Euro. It wasn’t until the last 16 that I hit my stride. So we’ll see. I have confidence in my game.”

Griezmann’s team mate at Atletico – Lucas Hernandez, too has leapt to the defence of the striker, saying he is rated among the world’s best and cannot be doubted.

“He’s fine. You should never doubt one of the best players in the world,” said Hernandez.

“Here’s hoping he shuts up everyone who is talking about him in the last 16.”

Meanwhile, France’s other attackers have struggled too, and placing the blame solely on Griezmann would be unfair.

Griezmann though has found linking up with Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele tough.

He did manage to look dangerous when paired alongside Giroud against Peru, but the pair couldn’t find their chemistry against Denmark, with Griezmann failing to even complete a single pass to the Chelsea striker during the first half.

“I felt good in the first half. I tried to drop back from time to time to pick up the ball,” Griezmann added. “In the second half I tried to be closer to the area so I touched the ball less often, but that’s the way I wanted to play.”

And now the Frenchman has snubbed the chance to join Messi at Barcelona, Griezmann will look to come out on top when he faces the Argentinian magician this weekend.

Most popular

Diego Maradona offers reward over 'death' report after Argentina's win

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Football legend Diego Maradona has offered a $10,000 reward to identify the source of reports that he had died after Argentina’s 2-1 World Cup win against Nigeria, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Apparently a man with an Argentine accent had circulated WhatsApp voice messages saying the 57-year-old star had been hospitalised and then died of a cardiac arrest.

“I gave instructions to make public the decision to offer a reward of 300,000 pesos (around $10,000) to anyone who can provide true and accurate information about the author of the audios,” Maradona’s lawyer Matias Morla told Argentina’s Clarin daily from Russia.

The Argentine great fell ill after the game was over and had to be helped from his seat.

But Maradona denied rumors, saying – “I’m perfect. I’ve never been better.”

Morla said Maradona had suffered “a spike” in blood pressure.

Maradona celebrates

“It’s a subject that at one time alarmed him. It’s no secret how he lives through a game. How he lived them as a player is how he lives them as a fan,” added Morla, who said Maradona shouldn’t even have been at the stadium for the second half.

“The doctors told him to rest, not to stay for the second half of the Argentina-Nigeria match, but asking that of Maradona is like asking a son not to love his mother.

“For Diego, the team is Dona Tota (his mother), and he will never let her on her own.”.

The audio messages went viral as soon as the game finished.

“Maradona’s sisters heard the news, they could not communicate with me nor with their brother, and one of them suffered a weakness, and the truth is that we cannot let such an outrage go by,” Morla told Clarin.

Most popular

Barcelona's Yerry Mina will have plenty of suitors this summer and other Colombia v Senegal talking points

Matt Jones 28/06/2018
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Colombia will get the chance to emulate their heroics of four years ago after they secured their passage to the 2018 World Cup’s last 16 with a stirring 1-0 victory over Senegal.

In match that failed to deliver on the hype it promised, James Rodriguez’s exit due to injury in the first half blunted proceedings and threatened to deflate Los Cafeteros.

But Barcelona defender Yerry Mina rose to head the South Americans into the lead in Samara 16 minutes from time and Jose Pekerman’s men march on.

Even crueler for the Lions of Teranga was that they became the first side to exit the World Cup via fair play – their six yellow cards compared to Japan’s four saw the Blue Samurai qualify in second.

Here are three talking points from the match:

IT’S FAR FROM FAIR ON SENEGAL

Senegal (2)

Quite how the Lions of Teranga managed not to pounce on a knockout-stage berth is bemusing after two thoroughly entertaining performances in their opening two games.

Defeat to Colombia rendered their efforts to emulate the class of 2002 a failure – thanks to the slenderest of margins.

The African side and Japan finished with identical records in Group H, winning, drawing and losing one game each and scoring four goals and also conceding four times.

With the sides split it came down to disciplinary records and you wonder how Aliou Cisse is feeling now after his side collected two more cautions in their three games compared to Japan – who sneak through to the knockout stages by the thickness of a blade on one of the swords the country is so famous for.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but M’Baye Niang might well be regretting picking up two cautions at the tournament, while Senegal stupidly collected two beyond 90 minutes in the 2-2 draw with Japan.

Bordeuax defender Youssouf Sabaly and Birmingham City midfielder Cheikh N’Doye might well be left red-faced by these two yellows, which have ultimately made the difference.

It would have been harsh on either Senegal or Japan to be the ones heading home after they had made the biggest impacts in the group overall.

Senegal won’t get to strut their stuff in the knockouts like coach Cisse did as captain of the side 16 years ago. But both he and his players can be proud of the way they’ve performed in Russia – something not a lot of the other 16 sides heading home early can say.

RODRIGUEZ INJURY A REAL BLOW

James

Colombia’s World Cup adventure continues but if Los Cafeteros (The Coffee Growers) are going to thrill the world like they did in Brazil four years ago, it looks like they might have to do it shorn of their star man, James Rodriguez.

The men in the golden shirts’ golden boy limped out after just half an hour of his side’s 1-0 defeat of Senegal in Samara on Thursday evening.

Coach Jose Pekerman immediately took his prized possession off, but Rodriguez’s reaction certainly didn’t look encouraging in terms of answering the question of whether he’ll feature again, with early indications suggesting the Bayern Munich schemer aggravated the calf injury that restricted him to a reserve role in that Japan defeat.

It’s a bitter blow for Rodriguez – who cut a desolate figure at times on the substitute’s bench in the second half – and Pekerman. His team played some scintillating stuff as Poland were pulverised and their World Cup campaign turned around.

They are hardly devoid of talent but there is no masking they are distinctly weaker without their wizard.

It’s fair to say that Colombia’s creator in chief is very much at home on the beautiful game’s biggest stage.

He set the world alight in Brazil and has been his country’s catalyst in Russia after they stumbled to a 2-1 defeat in their opening game, sparkling in the thrilling 3-0 win against Poland.

His two assists in that game means he has scored six goals and assisted four more in eight World Cup appearances. But Colombia might have to move on without him.

 

YERRY’S DISPLAYS MIGHT NOT MIN MUCH TO BARCELONA

 Colombia

The World Cup has provided the perfect setting for many unheralded stars to announce themselves to the planet over the years, and Colombia’s Yerry Mina has certainly grabbed his chance to shine bright.

As a Barcelona player, he may be far from an undiscovered gem, but the confusion over his club future conflicts with some superb performances at the World Cup so far.

After getting the crucial opening goal as Poland were pushed out of the tournament in the second group game, the 6ft 5in monster rose to plant an unstoppable header past brilliant Senegal stopper Khadim N’Diaye and haul his team into the knockout rounds when it very much looked like James Rodriguez’s early exit may have led to the nation leaving Russia early too.

All is not well in Catalonia though, where Mina only played 377 minutes for Barca following a high profile €11.8 million move from Palmeiras in January.

While Mina’s height is proving a mismatch in Russia, in Spain the big man’s gigantic frame denotes a lack of pace and that leaves him unsuitable to Barca’s tiki-taka approach, with Ernesto Valverde deploying a high defensive line.

But he won’t be worrying about his future with the Blaugrana for now, after notching his fifth goal in just 14 appearances for his country.

Only Santiago Arias had more touches of the ball (74) compared to Mina’s 73 against Senegal, while the giant centre-back won seven aerial duels, more than anyone on the pitch.

His 91.4 per cent pass success completion also led Colombia, as did his seven clearances (four more than anyone else), while his two tackles were also the joint most, again alongside Arias.

If Mina keeps on making an impact in Russia, he’ll have plenty of suitors this summer.

Most popular