Antoine Griezmann Inspires France to Easy Moldova Win in Euro 2020 Qualifying

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2019

France's midfielder Antoine Griezmann (L) is congratulated by France's forward Olivier Giroud (C) and France's defender Benjamin Pavard after scoring a goal during the Euro 2020 qualifying football match between Moldova and France, on March 22, 2019 at Zimbru stadium in Chisinau. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

World champions France got their UEFA European Championship qualifying campaign off to an ideal start on Friday as they beat Moldova 4-1 at Zimbru Stadium.

It took France 24 minutes to break the deadlock, with Antoine Griezmann finishing after a stunning pass from Paul Pogba. Within 12 minutes, they were three ahead, with Raphael Varane and Olivier Giroud ensuring the game was over by half-time.

In the second half, France went through the motions in the main before Kylian Mbappe added a fourth with three minutes remaining. The hosts were able to grab a consolation, with Vladimir Ambros netting in stoppage time.

France are the big favourites to qualify from Group H. In addition to Friday’s opponents, they will face Albania, Andorra, Iceland and Turkey.

Deschamps Must Use More Attacking Approach Against Bigger Nations

They may boast some of the best attacking talent in world football, but France's success at the FIFA World Cup was based on a pragmatic approach from manager Didier Deschamps. On Friday, they looked like a team with more license to express themselves in the final third.

While the calibre of the opposition must be taken into consideration, France's opening goal of the night showed what they are capable of when the team is given freedom (UK only): 

Sky Sports Football @SkyFootball

😍 - Oh, Paul Pogba. What an assist for the @ManUtd midfielder as Griezmann slams it in from close range! 🎁 https://t.co/rNcQZr74Sh

Griezmann fired in a brilliant corner for Varane to finish for France's second (UK only): 

Sky Sports Football @SkyFootball

🌍🏆 - The World Champions are in the mood! It's straight off the training ground as Varane nods in Griezmann's corner. 🎯 https://t.co/8rzR67C1pD

At the World Cup, Deschamps used the energetic Blaise Matuidi on the left flank to shore up the midfield. In this encounter, Kingsley Coman was poised to start, although he pulled out of the XI at the last minute, with Matuidi coming in.

Although the blueprint instilled by Deschamps worked in Russia last summer, it's important France continue to evolve and improve if they're to challenge for European glory in 2020. Making use of the wealth of attacking class in their squad is the best way for the manager to keep things fresh.


Giroud Can Still Be a Valuable Player at Euro 2020

Having been on the fringes of the Chelsea side for much of the campaign, there were some eyebrows raised when Giroud was called up to the squad by Deschamps. However, he continues to prove his worth on the international stage.

When it comes to holding the ball up, bringing others into play and providing a physical presence at the point of the attack, there aren't many better than the Blues star.

Despite famously being unable to find the net at the World Cup, he's been prolific for the French overall. His strike Friday means only two iconic players have scored more than the Chelsea star in France colours: 

Coral @Coral

Most goals scored for the French senior men's national team: 🇫🇷 Thierry Henry (51) 🇫🇷 Michel Platini (41) 🇫🇷 David Trezeguet (34) 🇫🇷 Olivier Giroud (34) Giroud in the company of legends. https://t.co/FPhvCU3huZ

At the moment, Giroud's long-term future is up in the air, as his contract is poised to run out at the end of the season at Stamford Bridge.

Assuming he does move on, it's likely he will get more football in 2019-20. Provided he continues to showcase the traits for which he has become renowned in recent years, the striker will remain an invaluable part of Deschamps' squad as France seek to add the European title to their world crown.


What’s Next?

France are back in Paris on Monday as they host Iceland, seeking to make it two wins from two in Group H. Moldova will look to respond when they face Turkey on the same day, although they'll be big underdogs once again.


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