Arsenal and Real Madrid target set for France start – report

Antoine Griezmann

Hotly-pursued Real Sociedad winger Antoine Griezmann appears set to start France's opening World Cup match against Honduras on Sunday.

France’s young winger Antoine Griezmann could be in line to start the side’s opening World Cup game against Honduras on Sunday, according to various reports.

The decision was reportedly made by team management in a closed-door meeting Saturday night, with Griezmann expected to line up on the left alongside Karim Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena, as Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, who has been suffering with a hamstring problem, misses out.

The Real Sociedad starlet’s place in the side has been opened up by the loss of talisman Franck Ribery for the tournament due to injury, with three goals off the bench in the final two warm-up friendlies against Paraguay and Jamaica helping his case immensely.

Having been forced to wait for his senior debut until March this year, largely due to a past incident while with the Under-21 side, Griezmann lacks experience on the international stage but has already been pegged as one of the potential stars to watch this summer.

The 23-year-old has proved himself an immensely exciting talent over the past few La Liga seasons, with his pace, trickery and ability to fill any number of attacking roles making him one of the most coveted players in Europe this coming transfer window.

After 20 goals across all competitions in 2013-14, Arsenal are said to be one of many clubs coveting the £18 million-rated youngster, although they could face stiff competition from European champions Real Madrid for his services.

A bidding war was likely on the cards even before Griezmann set off for Brazil, but it could well be yet magnified should he impress over the next few weeks for Didier Deschamps’ side.

On football’s biggest stage, his first opportunity to showcase his worth will come this weekend, with further games against Group E opponents Switzerland and Ecuador to follow.

When all is said and done, France may just find that they haven’t missed their star man Ribery as much as anticipated.

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