In a pulsating Euro 2016 final, Portugal managed to edge France in the extra time. It was the thunderous strike from Eder that buried into the bottom right corner, beating Hugo Lloris all ends up, which sealed it for the Portuguese. The whole Portuguese bench, spectators and fans erupted in joy inside and outside the stadium. That moment of magic from Eder was enough to seal the game for the Fernando Santos-men.
It was nothing short of a heartbreak for France supporters in Paris, but more so for their charismatic striker Antoine Griezmann. The playmaker, who ensured that France play the final. He scored six goals with two assists, and won the UEFA Euro 2016 Golden Boot.
“Maybe later I can feel proud, but for now it’s about the group,” a disgruntled Griezmann after France’s defeat. “I am very disappointed for my team-mates. I really wanted to give them this trophy but I couldn’t score. It’s cruel and magnificent at the same time.”
However, seeing how the Atletico Madrid striker performed in the whole tournament, he should walk with his head held high. Although, the result is not what he would have hoped when the tournament started, still he stamped himself as one of the most prolific strikers.
Playing behind Olivier Giroud, Griezmann fed a number of passes for his team, and playing key role in his team’s knockout wins in the Euro 2016. He scored a brace against Ireland in the pre-quarterfinals, when France was trailing in the first-half. The diminutive-figured striker scored one against Iceland, and added two crucial ones in Les Blues win over world champions Germany.
The final wasn’t the best of games he played in the tournament. He missed an open header, which could have sealed the title. The pressure seemed to have taken over him and the entire French team. It just didn’t turn out to the night for Griezmann. He wasn’t the savior which France wanted in the final.
“They never got any impetus,” Ian Wright said. “Paul Pogba nothing, Griezmann nothing, it didn’t happen for them. They were almost waiting for something to happen and it didn’t.”
It wasn’t the case with Portugal, though. They lost Cristiano Ronaldo in the 15th minute. That was the moment which could have wretched the entire Portugal team, but they didn’t lose hope, and kept on grinding the Blue Brigade. They tried everything to create a magical moment, which eventually happened in the second-half of the added time through Eder.
Griezmann has been a find of the tournament for France. The French striker was taken off by Didier Deschamps against Romania, and then dropped against Albania, he never looked back. He was electric to say the least. His presence inside the box and in the air was remarkable, despite being a little guy.
Losing the final is a harsh reality for Griezmann and the entire French team. But, as they say, we find success in defeats; Griezmann is one such success story. He is only going to be better from here. And, he might even go on to become the best French player, who knows?
But, for now, is he the player of the tournament? For me, yes!
By: Tarish Bhatt