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Explaining the mystical: Why Antoine Griezmann is so much fun to watch

An ode to the Frenchman and his mystical sense of stillness and skill

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Those impossible to define things in football that you sometimes just feel about a player become nonsensical when you try to explain them. Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophy suggests that "such matters as ethics and aesthetics, religion, and the problems of life are not themselves ruled out as nonsensical; it is only the attempt to say anything about them which is so. There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are what is mystical."

In an effort to better understand the phenomenon that is President Antoine of the Republic of Griez (I'm currently looking into trademarking this so hands off), I took to YouTube and excitedly typed Antoine Griezmann highlights into the search bar, waiting to be taken into a world so comfy that the only comparison I can draw is the the kind of Nirvana I experience while watching David Attenborough documentaries before nodding off on my parents couch on a Sunday afternoon.

Am I trying to describe the mystical? Is it something that can not be put into words and becomes nonsensical when I do? Just like why Simeone's players fight the way they do, or the way the word momentum is used as a noun that pundits will almost convince you they can quantify. Is this a fool's errand?

Possibly; but I have to try as a cathartic exercise, if nothing else. I've you've come here hoping I can explain the mystical then you will likely be let down but if you want to understand why this Atletico Madrid fan loves to watch him play then read on, my friend, read on.

I took to Football Manager to find out what they rate highly about the player and found that his highest rated attributes there are technique (17), first touch (19) and determination (17). Physically, he is nothing special, according to these stats as his acceleration, pace, strength or stamina don't jump off the page either but this information combined with the YouTube videos and all the crappy European dance music I could stomach, I came to some conclusions.


It's his impish-like stride that carries him around the field at speeds far greater than the eye can perceive. In those moments, his closest comparison is Lionel Messi, perhaps, and given the fact that the Argentine is the greatest player ever to have kicked a football, that is no faint praise. Let that sink in for a second.

When Griezmann is in the process, along with his teammates, of executing a counter-attack when all that is left between him and a trembling goalkeeper is a drop of the hips or the gentle manipulation of the football passed a defender, Griezmann is in his pomp. He doesn't so much run but he floats across the pitch, swallowing up ground as if it was a post-game chocolate cupcake he shouldn't be eating. I'm no expert in physical therapy but his gait and cadence when running is something to behold.

This brings me onto the next point and the clue is in Football Manager's stats. His first touch makes anything seem possible. A long ball hoofed in his general direction can be brought down and turned into a one-on-one in a split second. It's why he works so well under Simeone and this is at the essence of why he is so exciting to watch.

When he has the ball, he is the hunted, with teams learning quickly whether by instinct or design to collapse around him in the hope of forcing an error and when he is not in possession, he is the hunter. At these times, he is almost more dangerous - all the pressure on the defender because nothing is expected of minuscule Griezmann - but the defender knows his compact style, patience, speed and instinct can force errors from the most stringent of defenders.

And then, of course, there's the possibility of THIS happening whenever he is on the field:

Griezmann is 25 and has some development to do as a footballer but right now he is in the top ten in the world and proving it at Euro 2016. Depending on how Paul Pogba, Neymar and Kingsley Coman continue to grow, Griezmann will one day be considered the best footballer in the world.

He does everything well, most things very well and some things exceptionally well without being a physically dominating force or a one-trick pony. It's one of the main reasons why he will win the ballon d'Or at some point during his career and another reason why Atletico Madrid fans get nervous when they hear transfer speculation.

A new five year deal with an extortionate release clause is the best piece of business they could do and we look forward to seeing him on a weekly basis for next season anyway.