Tuesday, May 28News That Matters

Rio Ferdinand names ‘the best defensive player’ at the World Cup

Rio Ferdinand claims Antoine Griezmann has been ‘the best defensive player’ at the World Cup as France prepare to face Argentina in the final.

The world champions sealed a 2-0 win over Morocco in the semi final on Wednesday with Theo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani scoring the goals for Didier Deschamps’ side.

Griezmann, meanwhile, delivered another outstanding performance at the heart of France’s midfield.

The 31-year-old has impressed with his versatility at the World Cup and his defensive nous, which has shocked many at the tournament, has played a major role in France’s success so far.

When asked if Griezmann should be considered the third-best player at the World Cup behind Lionel Messi and Mbappe, Ferdinand told BBC Sport: ‘I think he’s in the conversation no doubt.

‘I think he’s been the best defensive player in the tournament. ‘We could show some great clips of him on the ball, creating stuff, but we could show clips as good, if not more important, defensively.

‘That shows you his all-round game, the impact he’s having on this team. ‘It requires huge intelligence to be able to do that.’

Former England striker Alan Shearer added: ‘We highlighted Amrabat for what he did for his team [Morocco] defensively, but Griezmann was equally as good in that position in terms of what he was doing and helping his defenders out.

‘He was the one who was picking up the pieces.

‘You’ve also got to give Deschamps credit for changing his position slightly. He’s really enjoying what he’s doing, he’s working as hard as anyone is doing on the pitch, he’s doing an incredible job both going forward and defensively for his team. He’s been superb.’

Meanwhile, Didier Drogba hailed Griezmann as France’s replacement for N’Golo Kante, who missed the World Cup due to injury.

‘He’s the maestro of this team. Attacking, defending, he’s everywhere,’ said Drogba.

‘It’s surprising but I think he’s got the intelligence and the quality to do it. He looks more like Kante than Griezmann.’

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