Two players who played starring roles in France’s Euro 2016 campaign are currently experiencing markedly contrasting fortunes at club level.
Greizmann flourishes whilst Payet toils
Influential in their country’s progression to the final of Euro 2016, which the French lost 1-0 to Portugal, Antoine Greizmann and Dimitri Payet performed superbly well throughout the tournament.
Furthermore the pair’s fine summer exploits on the international stage followed them enjoying great club seasons. Whilst Greizmann excelled at Atletico Madrid, a similar assessment can be attributed to Payet’s contribution for West Ham during the 2015-2016 campaign.
However at present whereas Greizmann continues to flourish in La Liga, Payet is enduring a difficult start to the English Premier League season, as the 29-year-old winger toils in a team on a dismal run of form.
Payet plagued by West Ham’s woes
Specifically Southampton consigned West Ham to a fourth successive league defeat by beating Slaven Bilic’s side 3-0 at the Olympic Stadium. Furthermore that result marks the first time in West Ham’s history that they have lost five of their opening six games in a top-flight season.
Consquently they currently languish in 18th position, as Payet struggles to rediscover his wonderful form of last season, following his Euro 2016 exertions for France. The toll which those exertions potentially took on Payet was sensitively recognised by Bilic.
As well as resting Payet for the Europa League qualifiers, the 48-year-old Croatian did not start the former Olympique Marseille player in any of his team’s first three league games of the season.
After appearing as a second half substitute as West Ham opened their league campaign with a 2-1 away defeat to Chelsea, Payet was then omitted from the Hammers squad’s which Bilic named to face Bournemouth and Manchester City.
Subsequently a refreshed Payet provided assists for both of West Ham’s goals, as he made his first start of the season in their 4-2 home loss to Watford. For the first half-an-hour of that game, Payet was magnificent, with the highlight of his performance arriving when he delivered a wonderful rabona cross that Michail Antonio headed home to give West Ham a 2-0 lead. Thereafter however Payet was powerless to prevent West Ham surrendering their advantage as he became a peripheral figure in the game.
Whilst that was a source of great frustration for the Frenchman so too has been the limited influence he has had on West Ham’s two most recent performances as they have lost 4-2 and 3-0 to West Bromwich Albion and Southampton respectively. It is neither a lack of desire nor effort that governs Payet’s current struggles since he continues to abundantly display those attributes. Conversely although this season he showed glimpses of his class against Watford and scored a wonderful injury time free-kick to help West Ham to a 1-0 League Cup victory over Accrington Stanley, Payet is simply out-of-form among a team low on confidence.
That is not a problem with which Payet’s French teammate Antoine Greizemann currently requires to contend.
Atletico remain grateful for Greizmann
The former Real Sociedad forward, who won the Euro 2016 player of the tournament and golden boot awards, has scored five goals in five La Liga appearances this season, to help Atletico Madrid remain unbeaten in, and amass twelve points from, their opening six league games. After not playing in the first of those, a 1-1 draw against Alaves, Greizmann has been an ever present in Diego Simeone’s side.
They climbed to third place in La Liga, following a 1-0 home victory over Deportivo La Coruna, as Greizmann scored the decisive goal with a calm side – footed finish from Kevin Gameiro’s precise cross.
For both of Atletico’s past two La Liga campaigns, since joining the club from Sociedad for €30m in July 2014, Greizmann has scored 22 goals, with great potential existing for him to surpass that total this season. That is particularly the case given his current rich vein of form, which represents a healthy extension of that which he produced both for Atletico last season and France at Euro 2016.
In addition to being the joint top scorer in La Liga alongside Barcelona’s Luis Suarez, Greizmann is also one of the division’s most outstanding general performers, as the 25 year-old has brilliantly recuperated from inspiring France to reach the final of Euro 2016.
Subsequently Greizmann has responded superbly well to the disappointment of losing that game, by helping Atletico construct a strong platform upon which the can build a successful season.
French Euro 2016′s duo’s current plights in stark contrast
At present Los Rojiblancos prospects of achieving that appear healthy, as they will aspire to extend their unbeaten run in their next La Liga game at the Mestalla against Valencia, from whom Sofiane Feghouli joined Greizmann’s French team mate Payet at West Ham.
The East London club will host Middlesbrough in their English Premier League fixture, with their aim being to end a run of five humbling successive league defeats.
Therefore although Greizmann and Payet were both stars of France’s impressive but eventually unsuccessful Euro 2016 campaign, their current fortunes at club level are in stark contrast.
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