FIFA World Cup: Antoine Griezmann continues his stellar showing as semifinals arrive for France against Morocco
Antoine Griezmann, who provided assists for both goals on Saturday to help France beat England and book their place in the semi-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, once again demonstrated that he is one of the standout stars of this year’s tournament.
Doha: Antoine Griezmann, who provided assists for both goals on Saturday to help France beat England and book their place in the semi-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, once again demonstrated that he is one of the standout stars of this year’s tournament.
The Rojiblanco number ‘8’ continues to break records and bring Les Bleus ever closer to retaining their world crown, a milestone that has only happened twice in the history of the World Cups, the last one being 60 years ago (Italy 1934-1938 and Brazil 1958-1962).
Having opened his assist account for the winner against Denmark in the group stage, mid-fielder Griezmann is the tournament’s top assist man (3), level with Portugal’s Bruno Fernandes and England’s Harry Kane.
With France all set to face Morocco in the semi-finals of this year’s World Cup at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Griezmann’s closest rivals for the top assists award already have eliminated from the competition. His three assists have also made him the all-time top assist man for Les Bleus with 28, ahead of 27 for Thierry Henry and 26 for Zinedine Zidane.
Griezmann also leads the overall rankings in Qatar in terms of key passes (17) and great chances created (6) and within his national team he is the player with the most crosses (34), the most attempted breakaways (82) and the most completed line breaks (63).
All this in what is his third World Cup, having made his debut in Brazil 2014 – in the summer in which he joined Atletico Madrid – and having won the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Griezmann will be the key for France in thwarting a stiff and spirited challenge from Morocco, who have been the underdog story making huge noises in the tournament so far.
In Morocco side, Youssef En-Nesyri has one of the biggest names in the tournament, thanks to the historic goal that earned his team a place in the semi-finals against Portugal (1-0). They are also the first-ever African and Arab team in history to reach the semi-finals of a FIFA World Cup.
En-Nesyri, who plays in LaLiga just like Griezmann, is putting together a dream campaign in the World Cup. In fact, the 25-year-old’s 18 goals so far in 2020/21 campaign broke the all-time record for goals by a Moroccan in LaLiga in a single season, a record previously held by Youssef El-Arabi.
Fes-born En-Nesyri came through the youth ranks at the Mohammed VI Football Academy, one of the most prestigious academies in Morocco. By the age of 17 he stood out for his physicality and technical abilities, so much so that he was picked up by Malaga CF in 2015, thus kickstarting his LaLiga career.
After playing for Melaga CF and CD Leganes, in January 2020 he made the leap to Spanish giants Sevilla FC. And in his first full season En-Nesyri was key to Sevilla FC’s LaLiga Santander title aspirations. His 18 goals that season earned 19 points for the Hispalense club.
The Moroccan star scored hat-tricks on two consecutive matchdays at Senchez-Pizjuen in January 2021, only the third Sevillista to do so in history after Guillermo Campanal and Rafael Berrocal during the 1940se seven decades ago!
He’s well known for his relationship with Kawasi, the ‘barber to the stars.’ Kawasi began cutting Youssef’s hair back in 2015 when he joined Malaga – where he’s based – and has followed his friend ever since. He often posts En-Nesyri’s pre-match haircuts on social media.