Antoine Griezmann's Double Completes Comeback vs. Germany in UEFA Nations League

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2018

France's forward Antoine Griezmann (C) celebrates after scoring their second goal on a penalty kick during the UEFA Nations League football match between France and Germany at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, near Paris on October 16, 2018. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

Antoine Griezmann scored twice as World Cup winners France beat Germany 2-1 in the UEFA Nations League at the Stade de France on Tuesday. Griezmann's second-half brace, completed from the penalty spot with 10 minutes to go, proved enough to give Les Bleus all three points and maintain an unbeaten start at the top of Group A1.  

Germany had taken a first-half lead thanks to a Toni Kroos penalty, but Die Mannschaft now faces possible relegation to Group B unless results improve.


Time for France to Bench Paul Pogba

How many inconsistent performances will it take before France say Paul Pogba's reputation and potential alone aren't enough to keep him in the team? It's a reasonable question after the Manchester United playmaker produced yet another middling display for his nation.

Pogba's lack of concentration was cruelly exposed when he was dispossessed in the build-up to Germany's penalty. This kind of lapse is anything but rare from the 25-year-old:

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Sadly for France, losing the ball in a dangerous area was far from Pogba's only gaffe. He routinely let himself be played around too easily by a Germany midfield featuring Bayern Munich defender Joshua Kimmich in an unfamiliar position.

Pogba's distribution also let him down when he did get on the ball. He couldn't find his range in the middle of the park, while his shooting boots deserted him more than once from distance.

Such mistakes led to frustration and rendered Pogba as reckless out of possession as he'd proved in it:

France needn't carry such an inconsistent performer, not with the ample reserves of talent at the disposal of coach Didier Deschamps.

Players such as Ateltico Madrid's Thomas Lemar or Lyon schemer Nabil Fekir could handle the creative load in the advanced areas of midfield. Alternatively, AS Roma enforcer Steven Nzonzi or Fekir's team-mate Tanguy Ndombele could man the deeper role Pogba has begun to adopt for both club and country.


Leroy Sane Should be Germany's Future

Germany's recent struggles, summed up by their early elimination from the Nations League, proved the 2014 FIFA World Cup winners need a refresh. Fortunately, Die Mannschaft don't have to look far to find the catalyst for a new era.

Manchester City winger Leroy Sane has already proved talented enough to be the future for his nation.

Bizarrely left out of the squad for this summer's World Cup in Russia, Sane is the dynamic match-winner a stale Germany setup has been lacking. He justified his start in Saint-Denis by showcasing his awesome pace on the break.

Sane timed his runs well and also proved his ability to be decisive by creating the penalty when his deft cross hit the arm of sliding Paris Saint-Germain defender Presnel Kimpembe:

The contribution was the signature moment of a performance defined by intelligence and threat, as the 22-year-old forward ran France ragged on the break:

He timed his runs well and expertly worked the areas between the midfield and forward lines.

There were still issues, though, as Sane's final ball often left a lot to be desired. With more accuracy, a player equally comfortable creating and scoring goals would have had a pair of assists to his credit.

He was substituted for Julian Draxler with about 15 minutes to go, but Sane had done enough to prove he must get more starts on the watch of coach Joachim Low.

Sane has all the attributes to be the talisman for his nation for the next decade.


What's Next?

France will resume their Nations League campaign away to the Netherlands on Friday, November 16. Meanwhile, Germany will host Russia in a friendly on November, 15, before facing the Netherlands in the Nations League four days later.


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