England: Trippier switches focus from Mbappe to ‘fantastic’ France star ahead of World Cup QF

England vs France - Antoine Griezmann and Kieran Trippier during a match Credit: Alamy
England vs France - Antoine Griezmann and Kieran Trippier during a match Credit: Alamy

While many are focusing on Kylian Mbappe ahead of France vs England on Saturday, Kieran Trippier has underlined the importance of Antoine Griezmann.

The reigning World Cup champions provide a tough obstacle for Gareth Southgate’s men to overcome at Al Bayt Stadium in Saturday evening’s quarter-final.

Given it is an even-looking clash that could be decided on a moment of magic, much of the pre-match talk has surrounded the importance of shackling Golden Boot leader Mbappe in Al Khor.

But France’s squad is awash with talent and Trippier has highlighted the threat of his former Atletico Madrid team-mate Griezmann, who has played 71 consecutive games for the national team.

“I didn’t even know that,” the England right-back said when told of that run. “I was lucky to play with him. Experienced.

“You see his talent throughout his career and when you play with him you see his individual talent.

“He picks up spaces. He scores goals as well. He is one of those when even in training he is clever where he picks up space.

“He just drifts and is certainly a player to keep an eye on. He has the individual quality to find a pass, score a goal and arrive in the box.

“Griezy is a fantastic player, and one we have to be aware of.”

The last France game Griezmann missed was in June 2017 – a 3-2 friendly win against England, which saw Trippier make his international debut.

The 32-year-old defender now has 40 caps under his belt and scored in the 2018 World Cup semi-final, which came a year before he took the bold move to join Atletico.

Trippier speaks glowingly about his time under Diego Simeone, with Griezmann among those that helped him thrive in Spain.

“A great guy,” he said. “We got on really well. His English is good and he really helped me when I was there, even though he arrived after me. I have huge respect for him.

“We lived in the same area and spent a lot of time together off the pitch. As we all did. It was like a big family.

“He helped me with the language and was really important to me. As well as being a great team-mate on the pitch.”

Trippier and his Atleti team-mates lived in an area called La Finca, where they would walk to each other’s houses and hold frequent barbeques together.

“I had players round at mine,” he said. “It was always important for me to show the support and make them all aware that I was trying and making the effort to mix really.

“I spoke to Griezy a couple of months back. Obviously he’s doing his thing, I’m doing mine. It’s one of those where on Instagram you speak and wish each other well and stuff like that.”

Trippier, who won LaLiga in 2020-21, ended his impressive stint in Spain in January when joining Newcastle, where he has flourished for Eddie Howe’s improving side.

The full-back has remained a key part of Southgate’s set-up throughout that time, with his reliability and versatility key in last summer’s run to the European Championship final.

Trippier also starred in Russia four years ago and echoed team-mate Harry Maguire’s belief that there is a shift in the mentality and expectation of the group since then.

“If you go back to Russia, it was my first tournament and a lot of the players’ first tournaments as well,” he said.

“Four years later, you can see the experienced individuals we have got. They’ve played in big finals or they’ve played abroad. You can see in the young players now a big shift.

“We got to a semi-final, the Nations League (semi-final) and then the final of the Euros.

“Of course we shouldn’t be ashamed to say we want to win the World Cup.

“But we need to take it one game at a time, respect our opposition – that’s a given – and we know we’ve got a tough task ahead of us. But we’ll be ready.”

READ MORE: Manchester United dominate best World Cup XI of Premier League players

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