Griezmann grows tired of criticism of France after 'ugly victory'

France's performance in this European Championship remains unimpressive despite all their individual qualities. However, Antoine Griezmann is not very receptive to the criticism about the lack of spectacle during this tournament.

Griezmann grows tired of criticism of France after 'ugly victory'
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On Monday night, in the disappointing clash against Belgium, France needed an own goal by Jan Vertonghen to secure their place in the quarter-finals of the European Championship, while they only scored twice in the group stage.

One of those two goals was, in fact, an own goal by former Ajax player Max Wöber, which led to Austria's defeat. On the other hand, Les Bleus have conceded only one goal, a successful penalty by Robert Lewandowski in the final group match against Poland.

Didier Deschamps already defended his conservative choices after the victory over Belgium, and Antoine Griezmann is also indifferent to the criticism echoed in national and international media. The English newspaper The Times, for instance, called it an "ugly victory" for the title favorites. "A narrow victory? I don't care if we advance with a narrow victory or whatever, we are in the quarter-finals," countered Griezmann. "Defensively, it was a great match. Without good defense, you don't get far."

Deschamps stated after the match that his team did everything to score more and create chances. Former international Eric Di Meco understands the coach's happiness. "He realizes that his team isn't showing what people want to see, and he was under pressure for this match," said the former defender on RMC Sport. Di Meco also empathizes with Griezmann's comments. "As a player, you're focused on the result and achieving your goal, especially when you qualify with so much difficulty."

Based purely on results, Deschamps is justified. Recent history shows that matches in which France conceded more than one goal under his leadership didn't always end well. For instance, Argentina was too strong in the spectacular World Cup final in 2022 (3-3) after penalties, and France was eliminated by Switzerland in the previous European Championship after a goal-rich round of 16 match (3-3). In the 2018 World Cup, however, France did win with high scores against Argentina (4-3, round of 16) and Croatia (4-2, final).

The scrutiny and pressure on France's performances have been immense, given their status as one of the tournament favorites and their track record of success. The French squad, brimming with individual talent, has struggled to translate their potential into dominant displays. The reliance on moments of defensive brilliance and occasional attacking prowess has led to a more pragmatic approach from Deschamps, which, while effective, has not been universally applauded.

Griezmann’s frustration with the criticism highlights the disconnect between the team's internal focus and external expectations. For the players, progression in the tournament and achieving their ultimate goal of winning the championship remain the top priorities. The defensive solidity that Griezmann and Deschamps emphasized is seen as a cornerstone of their strategy, ensuring that the team remains difficult to break down and capable of grinding out results in high-stakes matches.

Deschamps' tactical approach has been shaped by the lessons of past tournaments. The World Cup final against Argentina in 2022, where France conceded three goals but managed to draw and ultimately lose on penalties, underscored the importance of a robust defense. Similarly, the high-scoring loss to Switzerland in the 2021 European Championship highlighted vulnerabilities that Deschamps has sought to address. In contrast, the 2018 World Cup victories, where France combined defensive resilience with effective attacking, serve as a blueprint for their current strategy.

As France moves forward in the tournament, the emphasis on defensive discipline and taking advantage of scoring opportunities remains central to their game plan. The quarter-final match will be another test of their ability to execute this approach under pressure. With high expectations from fans and critics alike, the French team continues to navigate the delicate balance between winning and entertaining. The outcome of their next match will further define their journey in this European Championship and the legacy of Deschamps’ tenure as head coach.