Antoine Griezmann says the prospect of taking on an inspired in the final is ‘a totally different proposition’ to anything else France have faced in as the holders gear up for a title defence against Argentina on Sunday.
Four-and-a-half years on winning their second world title, Didier Deschamps’ side reached another final by seeing off spirited Morocco in a breathless semi-final on Wednesday.
Theo Hernandez’s early acrobatic effort and a Randal Kolo Muani tap-in sealed a hard-fought 2-0 win for France at Al Bayt, where they were again made to suffer for their win, four days after edging past England in a tight quarter-final. But Griezmann believes France now face a different challenge entirely given the quality possessed by Argentina captain Messi – his former Barcelona team-mate.
The 35-year-old has risen to the occasion in what looks likely to be his fifth and final World Cup, with the forward hell bent on crowning a glittering career with a first victory in the tournament this weekend.
‘Any team with Messi in is a totally different proposition,’ Griezmann said. ‘We have seen practically all of their matches at this World Cup.
‘We have seen Argentina play, we know how they play. They are a difficult team to play and they seem to be on top form. Of course, not only Messi, they have a strong side around him.
‘So we know it is going to be a tough game and they will have a lot of support in the crowd. We’ll get back to work, focused on it, how we can hurt them, how we can defend against them. We will be well prepared.’
The need to concentrate their efforts on Argentina explained the somewhat calmer on-pitch celebrations against Morocco, in contrast to the way they reacted to winning their 2018 semi-final against Belgium. It reflected the maturity of a team which features several holdovers from the victorious campaign in Russia. A team again led by Didier Deschamps whose work is not done yet.
‘Against Belgium I cried and think now I’m more focused,’ said Griezmann, who has been a revelation in an attacking midfield role and was again superb against Morocco, taking the player-of-the-match award.
‘I am already focusing on the final on Sunday, trying to keep my feet on the ground,’ he added. ‘I’m trying to remain calm and focused and I’m going to have to recover from this game and prepare for Sunday.
‘Morocco impressed me. A shot can go your way or not, you need a little rub of the green and we are going to learn from this.’
, ., and .
World Cup 2022: your FAQs answered
Read the latest World Cup news on .