BUDAPEST, Hungary (Reuters) – France coach Didier Deschamps praised Antoine Griezmann ahead of his side’s European Championship clash with Hungary, a match that will be the forward’s 50th consecutive start for his country, labelling him one of the greatest players of all time.
Griezmann, who has scored 37 goals for France in 92 caps, is set to pull six clear of the previous starts record set by Patrick Vieira. Victory on Saturday would send the world champions through to the last 16 with a group match to spare.
“He is one of those players who is capable of changing games,” Deschamps told a news conference on Friday. “He is very creative, he has this ability to think outside the box, it is remarkable to watch.
“He beat a (starts) record. He is playing in consecutive games, wonderfully so for him. He may not be 20 anymore, but he takes very good care of himself.
“You can see the influence he has with the goals he scores and assists he makes. Then add to that the capacity he has to change the game, while getting back and doing his defensive duties. He is one of the greatest players of all time, both in Europe and worldwide.”
France’s 1-0 win over Germany in their tournament opener leaves them second in Group F behind Portugal, who beat Hungary 3-0 in Budapest on Tuesday.
Despite Portugal being France’s next opponent, and group placing determining who teams will meet in the next round, Deschamps insisted he has no plans to rest players with that final potential top-spot decider to come in mind.
“It is now more important to think about our formation and structure for this next match. Yes, we won the first game, and if we play the same game we can play with the possibility to win and qualify,” Deschamps said.
“I go step by step. This means I am not thinking about the third game. We are preparing for Hungary, nothing else. I may play the same team as the first match against Germany – we will see.”
(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Hugh Lawson)