FRANCE

Griezmann: "It bothers me that they see me as the anti-Benzema"

Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann has defended compatriot Karim Benzema -- who continues to be ignored from the French squad -- but stopped short of saying he should be recalled.

Griezmann: "It bothers me that they see me as the anti-Benzema"
ERIC GAILLARD REUTERS

Since Didier Deschamps began leaving Karim Benzema out of the France squad due to the Valbuena sex-tape scandal, firstly through the decision of the French Football Association and then later by his own accord, Antoine Griezmann has become the focal point of Les Bleus’ attack.

Griezmann bemoans Benzema criticism 

In an interview with Le Figaro published on Thursday, the Atletico Madrid striker talks about his role with the national side in the context of Benzema’s absence and bemoans the criticism that his compatriot has faced in his home country.

“It bothers me that they see me as the anti-Benzema,” says Griezmann. “I don’t like it because it tries to say that he’s someone horrible. Benzema is a great player. It was a pleasure to play with him in the team. We got along easily.”

Benzema (l) is accused of blackmailing France teammate Mathieu Valbuena (r)

Deschamps decides

When asked if he’d like to see the Real Madrid forward return to the France set up, Griezmann was more diplomatic however. “[Deschamps] is the coach who picks the squad and who decides if he comes or not.”

It’s not the first time Griezmann has leapt to the defence of Benzema. Just last month the 25-year old told Le Monde: “He’s easy to connect with. I get along with him on and off the pitch. France misses him."