With much of Didier Deschamps' tactical set-up surrounding the presence of Franck Ribery, the French were left scratching their heads after their talismanic winger was declared unfit to play at the 2014 World Cup.
The 31-year-old left-winger has 80 caps for Les Bleus, whilst managing to score 16 goals since his introduction into the squad at the 2006 World Cup. Furthermore, Ribery came third in the 2013 Ballon D'or and won the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award in 2012/13 which equates to the absence of a footballing messiah for the French.
During the 2006 World Cup, French legend Zinedine Zidane stated: "Franck just loves life. He’s the kind of player that makes an impression every time he plays. He’s bound to become an important figure in the world of football." Evidently, the evaluation from Zizou came true as Deschamps intended to rest the hopes of a nation upon Ribery's shoulders.
Ironically, the weight may have become too heavy, as Ribery succumbed to lumbago and will now be watching the World Cup from the sidelines. Ribery told German news agency SID: "I'm not afraid of injections, but I didn't want to have a cortisone injection from the French doctor. I know it's not good."
Step forward Real Sociedad's 23-year-old left-winger Antoine Griezmann. Not only can Griezmann provide a perfect replacement for Ribery, he has the talent to carry the French towards the latter stages of the competition.
Naturally, Griezmann can play as a left-winger, or he can even be converted into a centre-forward. Although Olivier Giroud, Karim Benzema and Loic Remy provide sufficient attacking coverage for Deschamps, Griezmann is the only left-sided midfielder which France has following the injury to Ribery.
In Group E, Griezmann will be given the opportunity to flaunt his incredible ability on the world stage against Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras. All of whom, on paper are certainly inferior to Les Bleus. Starting tonight, Griezmann should be presented with the opportunity to attack for the majority of the game against their "weakest" opponents Honduras.
In La Liga, Griezmann flourished in a Sociedad team which severely lacked star names. Impressively, Griezmann notched 16 goals and provided three assists to leave Sociedad seventh and comfortably qualify for the Europa League. Griezmann scored one less goal than France's first-choice striker Benzema managed last season.
With the defensive-midfield coverage provided by Blaise Matuidi and Paul Pogba, Griezmann was blessed by Deschamps to run all over Honduran right-back Bryan Beckeles who was sent-off in Honduras' last friendly against England after he cynically chopped Leighton Baines.
With the World Cup platform and the omission of Ribery, Griezmann is primed and ready to become France's most dangerous player during the group stages. With such a humid climate, the French defensive-midfielders Matuidi and Pogba will be relieved to release the ball to the attacking flair of Griezmann. In Ribery's absence, tonight could be the night in which Griezmann announces himself as a world-class French talisman.
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