Rio Ferdinand names France star as 'best defensive player' of 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament

Rio Ferdinand has heaped huge praise on Antoine Griezmann.
Rio Ferdinand has heaped huge praise on Antoine Griezmann.

Manchester United great Rio Ferdinand has identified France superstar Antoine Griezmann as the 2022 FIFA World Cup's best defensive performer ahead of Les Bleus' summit clash against Argentina.

Griezmann, 31, has been a crucial cog in Didier Deschamps' side since his senior international debut in 2014. Operating in a withdrawn role behind the offensive trio of Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele, he has turned a lot of heads in Qatar.

Despite underperforming for Atletico Madrid in the ongoing 2022-23 campaign, the 116-cap France international has showcased his versatility and defensive nous at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He has started five matches so far, contributing three assists in the process.

The thing about Antoine Griezmann is that he’s also an adopted South American. He loves his maté, his Spanish is perfect, and he’s the one who gets the party going in the dressing room. All of this is not coincidental to how he’s playing right now. He’s everywhere and loving it.

Speaking on BBC Sport, Ferdinand lauded Griezmann and termed him as the best defensive player at the FIFA World Cup. He said:

"I think he's been the best defensive player in the tournament. We could show some great clips of him on the ball, creating stuff, but we could show clips as good, if not more important, defensively. That shows you his all-round game, the impact he's having on this team. It requires huge intelligence to be able to do that."

England and Newcastle legend Alan Shearer also pitched in:

"We highlighted [Sofyan] Amrabat for what he did for his team [Morocco] defensively, but Griezmann was equally as good in that position in terms of what he was doing and helping his defenders out. He was the one who was picking up the pieces."

Further sharing his thoughts on Griezmann, Shearer added:

"You've also got to give Deschamps credit for changing his position slightly. He's really enjoying what he’s doing, he's working as hard as anyone on the pitch, he's doing an incredible job both going forward and defensively for his team. He's been superb."

Griezmann is next set to feature for France in the 2022 FIFA World Cup final against Argentina in Lusail on Sunday (December 18).

Antoine Griezmann. Most assists in France’s history. Legend.

France star makes decision on joining his team before 2022 FIFA World Cup final

According to Relevo, France superstar Karim Benzema is not set to plan to travel to Qatar for his team's 2022 FIFA World Cup final.

Benzema, 34, was ruled out of Les Bleus' campaign on the eve of the tournament opener with a thigh injury, sustained during a training session. Subsequently, he returned to Madrid to begin his recuperation.

His only appearance in the competition with France came in the Brazil edition in 2014, where he netted three times. Following a six-year hiatus from international football, he was recalled for the 2020 UEFA European Championship, where he scored four goals.

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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