The man of the moment as we head into the final of Euro 2016, is not Cristiano Ronaldo, is not Paul Pogba, but the leading goalscorer in the tournament so far, the man who fired a brace to lead his country into the finale – Antoine Griezmann. The France forward has been exceptional so far in this tournament, with the fans and media hailing him as the Michel Platini of Euro 2016, and the Atletico Madrid man will be keen to cap off a brilliant European Championship by leading his country to the title.
France play Portugal in the final at the Stade de France on Sunday, and while Ronaldo will hog quite a bit of the headlines in the leadup to the final, Griezmann is just as much the cynosure as anybody else, having scored six goals in Euro 2016 so far.
"Antoine is an exceptional player," France midfielder Blaide Matuidi, who has a great tournament of his own, without garnering as much of the attention, told reporters on Friday. "He's progressed a lot, and has his head on his shoulders.
"Having Griezmann at this level is beneficial to France and I hope that on Sunday he'll help us win the Euro 2016 title."
Griezmann has been a player transformed for France ever since Didier Deschamps decided to play him in the hole behind Olivier Giroud. The 25-year-old blossomed in that position in the second half against the Republic of Ireland, before putting on five-star performances against Iceland and Germany in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively.
Another similar performance in the final, and Griezmann will, no doubt, give the likes of Ronaldo and Lionel Messi a run for their Ballon d'Or money. "I think Antoine Griezmann is a credible candidate for the Ballon d'Or," Matuidi added. "If I had a vote, I'd vote for him."
However, the Ballon d'Or and all the individual glory that comes with it is for the future as far as Griezmann and France are concerned; all that matters to them now is beating Portugal in the final on Sunday and winning the title on home turf.