The French team looks like a team on a bus ride and the one stop destination is the Antoine Griezmann Island where it is so much fun at the moment with the host wearing a sleek golden shoes as he leads the dance in the party.
The French were among the Euro 2016 tournament favourites but World Champions Germany were overwhelming pundits choice to win the coveted trophy and when they met in the semifinals of the tournament in Marseille, the watching public expected a spectacle and surely got one.
The German machine showed why they are highly rated as they quell the early pressure from the hosts with some neat passing under pressure as they showed dexterity in possession. France knew they were up for it but had Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to thank as he produced some special stops to prevent the World Champions from scoring.
French supporters worried when Arsenal forward Olivier Giroud was put through on goal but his languid running style ensured that the Germans recovered to the dismay of the fans who were still angry he made the team and Karim Benzema their favourite was dropped by manager Didier Deschamps although it was inevitable as he was involved in a scandal that could disrupt the unity and focus of the team if he had been taking along.
Amidst all that, an opportunity presented itself for the French team when German Captain Bastian Schweinsteiger blatantly handled the ball inside the penalty area when trying to defend a corner – it looked like he was in a world handball tourney and desperate to block a match winning shot.
That was a silly decision from the Manchester United midfielder and new manager Jose Mourinho who was monitoring from England would not have been impressed by that lazy defending from the 31-year-old.
With German fans still wondering what happened – Antoine Griezmann stepped up for the penalty in a huge pressure moment against arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, Manuel Neuer. The Bayern Munich goalkeeper was calm but stirred at the little Frenchman as though he was the jury waiting to sentence him to life in prison for committing a crime.
It was a battle of nerves as both players stood and await the referees whistle, the crowd was quiet in anticipation of what will happen but at the end it was just the way home fans wished for as the Atletico Madrid man tucked away the penalty with great aplomb, sending Neuer the wrong way to record his fifth goal of the tournament.
The 25-year-old ran to the byline and showed off his funny dance moves – his two hands raised as if he was about to pick calls while his head shook uncontrollably, guess the sound from the crowd was the music on the night. It was a proud moment for the fans who last saw their team beat Germany in a competitive fixture at the World Cup in 1958.
The former Real Sociedad star capped the night with his brace when he capitalized on Manuel Neuer’s half clearance to finish off and make it 2-0 – that goal sent the fans into wide frenzy as they bounced inside the Valedrome, hugged strangers and kissed loved ones.
The nation stood as one at that moment and the pains from all the terror attacks they’ve witnessed in recent months suddenly disappeared and it was a bright sky again.
Victory against Germany was assured and a place in the final guaranteed – another chance for France to win a major tournament on home soil after winning the European Championship in 1984 and the FIFA World Cup in 1998.
Quick stats on Antoine Griezmann
Griezmann’s 6 goals so far is the most by a French player in a single major tournament since Michel Platini scored 9 goals at Euro1984 which France hosted and won. He surpasses Zinedine Zidane on 5 goals in the Euros.
Griezmann has scored 8 goals in 10 knockout games of both the UEFA Champions League and European Championship this season.
Antoine Griezmann has now scored as many goals for France at the European Championship finals as Thierry Henry (6).
He has scored twice as many goals as any other player at Euro2016.
At the end of the semifinal clash against the Germans, French players gathered in front of their supporters and did the Vikings clap made popular at the Euro 2016 by Iceland, it was a great sight.
Griezmann is tailored for the Most Valuable Player of the tournament and already looks like the topscorer with his six goals so far.
The ride for France has been amazing and next stop is a mouth-watering final clash on Sunday against a Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal side on a mission.