Bengaluru, June 13: Lionel Messi of Argentina, Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Brazil's Neymar will be the biggest stars to watch out for during the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia, which gets underway on June 14. However, the World Cup is not just about them. There are plenty of other stars who will set the World Cup stage on fire with their dazzling runs and insane goals or blocks.
In this daily series, MyKhel features the other top stars you have to watch out for in Russia.
This segment is about Antoine Griezmann, Atletico Madrid and France forward.
Destiny. What else could describe Griezmann's journey with the national team. With the World Cup set to kick off on Thursday (July 14), a video of a 7-year-old Griezmann is doing the rounds. The video, a part of a film that was screened two weeks before France won the 1998 World Cup, shows Thierry Henry signing souvenirs for a handful of young fans.
While signing the autographs Henry was heard saying, "They're our successors." Little did he know that one of the kids there would actually be an integral part of the France World Cup squad exactly two decades later. No points for guessing that the boy in question is Antoine Griezmann.
Griezmann, who has had a great season with La Liga side Atletico Madrid scoring 19 goals from 32 matches and 9 assists, will play an integral role for his national team in the upcoming World Cup in Russia. France, one of the strongest contenders to lift the trophy this year, is a team which boasts of a lot of individual stars. And it wouldn't be wrong to say that Griezmann, who has 20 goals from 54 appearances, is the brightest of the lot. Griezmann could probable fight for the best player of the team tag along side France captain Hugo Lloris. With the goalkeeper and the striker in the best of forms France will be a tough team to face on the pitch.
Griezmann, who has been linked with a move to La Liga giants Barcelona, will be one of the key figures in the French side. The 27-year-old, who stands at just 5-foot-9, is a tall figure on the soccer field. He has played an integral role in the national team after making his senior team debut in 2014 under coach Didier Deschamps at 22-years of age. This will be the second world cup for the striker. In 2016, Griezmann was ranked as the third best player in the world after guiding France to the finals of the 2016 European Championship. He also won the Golden Boot for the tournament's top scorer.
The striker has been immensely successful and what makes him so good is that he is good both with his feet and head. The 22-year-old finds the nook to put himself in the right place to power a strong header which will surpass the goalkeeper and find the back of the net. And whenever the ball is at his feet, he effortlessly dribbles around players and beats the goalkeeper to find the net. The quick, versatile player has often been described as a "team player" and fits beautifully into the French squad. Moreover, he is also accurate from penalties and set-pieces.
All-in-all he's a delight to watch and play with on the field, and will play an important role in France's campaign. With the tournament set to kick off Griezmann recently said, "My objective is to win the World Cup with France and it doesn't matter how we do it or our style of play." With that determination and those skills he is surely one of the players to watch out for in Russia. The odds are already in favour of the Les Bleus and if Griezmann has a good tournament then France can surely go the distance and maybe even lift the World Cup. Let's wait and watch!
Watch Griezmann in action:
vs Australia at 3.30 pm IST on June 16 (Kazan)
vs Peru at 8.30 pm IST on June 21 (Ekaterinburg)
vs Denmark at 7.30 pm IST on June 26 (Moscow)
Other featured stars: Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium), Kylian Mbappe (France), David de Gea (Spain), Sergio Ramos (Spain), Toni Kroos (Germany), Luka Modric (Croatia), Gabriel Jesus (Brazil), Luis Suarez (Uruguay)