Griezmann confirms Atleti departure

France World Cup-winning striker Antoine Griezmann has decided to leave Atletico Madrid and seek a new challenge after five seasons with the Rojiblancos.

The 28-year-old joined Atleti from Real Sociedad in the summer of 2014 and has since scored 133 goals in 256 appearances in all competitions, helping the club to challenge strongly both domestically and in Europe.

Atletico won the Europa League in 2018 and reached the Champions League final in 2016, with Griezmann playing a pivotal role in France winning the World Cup just under a year ago.

The forward has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona for some time and Griezmann feels the time is now right for him to seek a fresh challenge.

A statement from the player read: "After speaking with people in the club's hierarchy, I wanted to speak with you, the fans. You have always shown me a lot of love and I wanted to be the first to tell you that I've taken the decision to leave to see other things and take on other challenges.

"It's been a difficult route to take, but it's what I feel I need. Thanks for everything during five fantastic years here, where I was able to win my first big trophies.

"There have been some incredible moments that I will always remember. You, the supporters, will always be in my heart."

Atletico complete a season which will see them finish second in La Liga with a trip to Levante on Saturday.

The visitors are 19/20 to win the game and 15/2 to do so by a 1-0 scoreline, with Griezmann priced at 10/11 to score at any time in the game.

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Giroud fires Blues exit warning

France World Cup-winning striker Olivier Giroud has confirmed that he will seek a Chelsea exit in the summer unless he is offered a more major role by the club.

The 32-year-old joined the Blues from London rivals Arsenal in January of 2018, but has largely been used in a back-up role since then by both Antonio Conte and Maurizio Sarri.

And, despite an option for a further season at Stamford Bridge being on the cards, Giroud admits that he will look elsewhere if he is not expecting to be given more game time.

He admitted at the press conference ahead of the second leg of the Europa League quarter-final tie with Slavia Prague: "I'm happy to be here. I may be 32 and have won the World Cup, but I don't want to retire.

"But I'm not satisfied with second choice. I'm not happy to be the second striker.

"When you are a competitor, when you've been through difficulties all through your career, you need to keep that frustration inside you and transform it into positive energy on the pitch.

"(But) I'm not happy to play the second role. That's why I said, next year, I will need to have a more important role to play in the team."

Giroud has scored 16 goals in 56 appearances for Chelsea to date, with nine of those strikes having come in the Europa League this season.

He is 6/5 to score at any time on Thursday evening, with Chelsea 1/25 to reach the semi-finals, going into the home return leg holding a 1-0 advantage from the first leg in the Czech Republic.

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Atleti exit tough for Hernandez

France World Cup winner Lucas Hernandez says he has made the most difficult decision of his career to date by opting to leave Atletico Madrid.

The versatile 23-year-old defender had been offered an extension to his current contract by Los Rojiblancos, but has decided not to sign on and instead he will head to Bayern Munich this summer.

However, having spent more than a decade in the Spanish capital, Hernandez says his final decision was not an easy one to make.

He told Atleti's official website: "This is the most difficult and important decision I've ever had to make in my career. Atletico means a lot to me, because this is where I grew as a footballer and as a person.

"Saying no to Atletico was extremely hard, but I've decided to seek a new challenge at Bayern Munich.

"I want to thank everyone at Atletico, the officials, coaches, team-mates and fans. These 12 years have been incredible and unforgettable and Atletico will always be in my heart."

Hernandez is currently sidelined by a knee injury which will require surgery, so he may have already played his last game for the La Liga outfit.

Meanwhile, following the international break, Atleti return to action on Saturday when they visit Alaves, who are unbeaten in their last five league games.

The visitors can be backed at 4/5 to win the game at the Mendizorrotza, with Atleti 4/1 to secure a 1-0 victory, while loan striker Alvaro Morata is priced at 7/4 to score at any time in the game – having netted five times in his last six appearances for club and country.

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Hernandez moves to Bayern

French international Lucas Hernandez is to join Bayern Munich from Atletico Madrid in the summer for what is believed to be a club record fee.

The 23-year-old moves to Germany on a five-year deal and becomes the most expensive player in Bundesliga history.

Hernandez, who was part of the French squad which won the 2018 World Cup, played in all their games in Russia bringing his international caps to 15.

The defender, who can play at centre-half or left-back, has made 67 La Liga appearances for Atletico Madrid, having joined them as a youth player in 2007.

He said of his move to the Bundesliga champions: "This is a really important day in my footballing career.

"Bayern Munich is one of the best clubs in Europe and the world. I'm proud to be able to fight for all possible titles with Bayern."

The club's sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic added his delight at having completed the move, saying: "I'm very happy that in Lucas Hernandez we've been able to sign one of the best defensive players in the world.

"Lucas can be used both in central defence and on the left. He will also continue our tradition of outstanding French players and strengthen our team."

He will join Bayern on 1st July but in the meantime will stay with Atletico who are currently second in La Liga though 10 points behind leaders Barcelona.

They are back in action on Saturday evening when they travel to face Alaves and are 3/4 for the win with the home side 4/1 and the draw 12/5.

Meanwhile the Bundesliga title race looks like going down to the final games of the season with Bayern and Borussia Dortmund level on 60 points after 26 matches.

Bayern are 4/11 to win the title with Dortmund 2/1.

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Euro 2020: Four more for sensational France

France 4-0 Iceland

Les Bleus put on another scintillating display at the Stade de France, blowing away a dogged Iceland team to go top of Group H.

It’s the second time in four days Didier Deschamps’ side has scored four goals and they are already looking like the favourites for Euro 2020.

Samuel Umtiti put the World Champions ahead and Erik Hamren’s Iceland didn’t really have an answer. They were dead and buried once Olivier Giroud converted the team’s second.

Les Bleus look like the team to beat, though it shouldn’t escape anyone’s notice that World Cup semi-finalists England also hit five for the second time in a week

Highlights of the game

Olivier Giroud celebrates after his Euro 2020 goal materialised and  give France a 4-0 win against Iceland

Olivier Giroud celebrates after scoring France’s 2nd goal during the Euro 2020 qualifying match against Iceland

We expected the flair football to come from the hosts and for Iceland to dig in. That was exactly the pattern from the off as France passed the ball around with comfort, probing the Icelandic defence. And it only took 12 minutes for their bright opening to pay dividends.

A spectacular volley from Antoine Griezmann set Les Bleus on their way in Moldova. Their opener against Iceland was a more conventional goal but equally well-executed.

Kylian Mbappe took a long ball from Benjamin Pavard in stride and whipped in a superb cross for Samuel Umtiti, who glanced a header low into the corner of the net.

That was a nice moment for Umtiti, who has had a rough season. The big centre-back has struggled with injury and wants to get back to his best with Barcelona.

Iceland had a chance to equalise almost immediately, but when Gylfi Sigurdsson connected on a flick-on, he could only loop his header up into Hugo Lloris’ hands.

At the other end, Hannes Halldorsson made a brilliant save to tip over a header from Olivier Giroud. Mbappe also came close midway through the first half but fired just wide.

Blaise Matuidi had a gold-plated chance to double France’s lead before the break, but he headed wide despite being in acres of space.

Lloris was called into action at the start of the second period, getting down well to save a fierce long-range drive from Birkir Bjarnason.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Pavard came close to replicating his stunning World Cup strike against Argentina. However, his shot flew just wide. Minutes later, Griezmann jinked his way to the edge of the Iceland box but blasted his shot way over the bar.

Pavard then became provider as France finally had some breathing space. The full-back raced down the right flank and fired in a wicked cross which Giroud beat Halldorsson to and diverted the ball home.

The Chelsea striker almost doubled his tally minutes later as he slid the ball home. But unfortunately for him, he was just offside.

It was all France at that point. Griezmann found Mbappe with a superb through ball, and the PSG man nudged the ball home off the inside of the post.

The roles were reversed in another moment of class as Mbappe put Griezmann through with a clever backheel and the Atleti man coolly converted … as you’d expect!

1X2 Draw @ 3.15 Switzerland Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 1.93 Over 2.00 @ 1.87CLICK HEREDisclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.UEFA EURO 2020

Key statistics

With the France vs Iceland odds stacked in favour of the home win, us Asian Handicap sports betting was always the best way to play this game. France dominated the opening 45 minutes with 77 per cent possession and seven shots to two.

That pattern continued with a final shot count of 15 to four. Les Bleus were ruthless in the second half, ending Iceland’s four-match unbeaten run. The Icelanders have failed to beat France in 12 attempts so they shouldn’t have been surprised by the result!

Olivier Giroud also became France’s third top scorer of all-time, having reached 35 goals. He is now right behind two French greats in Thierry Henry and Michel Platini.

What’s next?

The early Euro 2020 results have just confirmed that France is a worthy World Champion.

Les Bleus have two away trips coming up in June in contrasting venues. First, they’ll be welcomed by a red-hot atmosphere in Turkey, where the hosts have some of the most hostile fans in world football. Turkey have won their first two qualifying games and won’t give France an easy ride.

And then it’s back up to the Spanish border, where Didier Deschamps’ team will play in the small principality of Andorra. That will be a little calmer.

Iceland, on the other hand, have two home games next: first against Albania and then against Turks, whom they will welcome to their own patch with the Viking Thunderclap.




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Euro 2020: France Flair can Melt the Icemen

France vs Iceland

European football returns to the Stade de France on Monday with the match of the night, as Erik Hamren’s Iceland arrives to take on France.

Both teams won their opening fixture of Euro 2020 and Iceland has a liking for the big stage, having qualified for Euro 2016 and Russia 2018, stunning the likes of England and Argentina at the finals. But this is probably their biggest test so far.

Erik Hamren’s Iceland had a nice opener, away to Andorra, which they navigated comfortably, while the World Champions blew Moldova away with a first half three goal blitz.

The Icelandic thunderclap will reverberate around Paris, and it’s the hosts’ job to keep it quiet. It’s going to be quite a night!

Talking Points

France can get even better

Les Bleus won the World Cup in scintillating style and the early Euro 2020 betting odds suggest a repeat may be on in Europe’s big international competition. Didier Deschamps has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal, and in their opening fixture four different players scored as they dismantled Moldova.

Kylian Mbappe took Russia 2018 by storm and he was on target again in the opener. The young PSG star can only get better, but he needs to keep a lid on his attitude. With world class talent often comes arrogance, and he was one of the PSG players who thought they could strut to victory over Manchester United as the French giants crashed out of the Champions League. In Moldova he was the subject of close attention, and some nasty challenges, but he did take an embarrassing dive late on, against a team which was dead and buried. There’s no doubt he’ll be a big feature in the Euro 2020 highlights package.

Antoine Griezmann is France’s highest ranked player, sitting seventh in UEFA’s latest list, which is topped by Spain’s Sergio Ramos. Griezmann bagged the best goal of the night against Moldova, getting on the end of a brilliant Paul Pogba ball to rifle a volley into the roof of the net.

Deschamps has such strength in depth that he can bring players with the class of Lyon’s Nabil Fekir off the bench; and that’s a sobering thought for any opponent.

Iceland’s big players with big hearts

Iceland will try to stun France in front of their own supporters when the two sides face off in Euro 2020

Iceland’s Vidar Orn Kjartansson celebrates scoring their second goal vs Andorra

Hamren’s minnows have enjoyed remarkable success over the past three years, which landed them in League A of the UEFA Nations League, though coming up against the likes of Belgium will eventually take its toll and they will play in League B next season.

Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson provides a real touch of class – he’s top scorer with 20 and is the heartbeat of the team, able to dictate the pace of play and turn defence into attack with an incisive ball. Iceland’s best chance of a goal is to win dead ball opportunities. If Sigurdsson is presented a chance within shooting distance then France keeper Hugo Lloris, who’s seen him many times in the Premier League, knows what to expect. He has the ability to pull off the spectacular.

Burnley’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson has struggled with injury this season but has returned to fitness and will be a key player in the Clarets’ survival campaign. He’s an intelligent player, with the ability to beat a man, an eye for goal and a strong work ethic. His 71 caps are testament to his worth to the Icemen.

And up front FC Augsburg’s Alfreo Finnbogasen may be the target for the creative players’ supply.


Iceland is the smallest nation to qualify for a World Cup and they already had a taste of finals football, qualifying for the 2016 European Championships where they came to the world’s attention by beating England on the way to the quarter final.

The underdogs came into this tournament on the back of three away draws, to Qatar, Sweden and Estonia and so are four matches unbeaten.

But they have never beaten Les Blues in 11 attempts, losing seven and drawing four.

France comes into this game on the back of a comfortable away win to Moldova and, of course, with the World Cup in the trophy cabinet.

Betting Tip

France vs Iceland France First Half -0.75 @ 1.91
March 26, 03:45(GMT+8)

According to the latest us odds Iceland is in for a hot night at the Stade de France, with the hosts at 1.22 to win. The draw is at 6.50 and Iceland at 9.75.

The Icemen have overcome bigger odds than that before but France hardly got out of second gear in sweeping Moldova aside. Les Bleus scored three in the opening half on Friday night and I’m backing them to get at least one against Iceland.

?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.




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Euro 2020: Winning Start for World Champs

Moldova 1-4 France

France made an impressive start to their Euro 2020 campaign in Chisnau with a win over Moldova thanks to a 12 minute three goal blitz in the first half.

Didier Deschamp’s team was head and shoulders above their hosts for most of the game and with the match won at half time, they had a relatively easy second 45. Moldova head coach Alexandru Spiridon will be pleased how his team stuck at their task in the second half, but they had no answer to goals from Antoine Griezmann, Raphael Varane and Olivier Giroud in the first.

Kylian Mbappe added a late fourth and Moldova bagged a consolation which was enough for the home fans to celebrate.

Our pre-match us odds of 1.11 pointed to a big win for Les Bleus and it could have been bigger had the World Champions kept their foot on the gas, but it’s job done.

Highlights of the game

This game was a baptism of fire for Moldova and as expected they were under the cosh right from the off. France almost went ahead on eight minutes when Antoine Griezmann headed a back across goal but Alexei Koselev cleared brilliantly as Kingsley Coman set himself to score.

1X2 Newcastle United @ 8.50 Asian Handicap:-1.50 Arsenal @ 2.12 +2.75 Under @ 2.06CLICK HEREDisclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.Premier League

Antoine Griezmann has been the subject of transfer speculation for two seasons now, and he may have been unsettled by Atletico Madrid’s surprise exit from the Champions League. But the way he took the opening goal suggested he can cope with the distraction. Paul Pogba chipped a delightful ball over the Moldova defence, and Griezmann watched it over his shoulder to fire a brilliant volley into the roof of the net.

Griezmann was the supplier for the second, sending over a corner which Raphael Varane met at the near post to glance his header home. Two goals in three minutes and Les Bleus had the game in the bag before the half hour.

Two became three on 36 minutes and it was oh so easy, as Blaise Matuidi found space behind the Moldova defence to dink a cross over which Olivier Giroud poked into the net.

It had been exhibition stuff at times from the French as Moldova spent much of the half just watching helplessly.

The hosts’ pride may have been a little dented and they came out for the second half with more bite, and Artiom Rozgoniuc was lucky to escape a card when he went right through Kylian Mbappe with a reckless challenge. Deschamps wasn’t amused.

France were happy to knock the ball around with Moldova often chasing shadows but, just as in the first half,  Les Blues couldn’t penetrate the home defence in the early stages of the second period. Pogba tested Alexei Koselev with a low drive which the keeper parried, and Moldova managed to get out of their own half for a while, before Mbappe tried his luck after a mazy run, but again Koselev saved. Then the keeper made an even better save when Pogba headed a Griezmann free kick towards the corner.

Mbappe made no mistake when he was put clean through on goal, firing low into the corner to make it four, but as the clock ran down Moldova had their big moment. Hugo Lloris couldn’t hold on to a header from Vitalie Damascan and Vladimir Ambros fired home the loose ball to send the home crowd wild.

Vladimir Ambros score his first international goal in Euro 2020 game vs France

Moldova’s Vladimir Ambros celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates

This result wasn’t exactly big Euro 2020 news but the way Les Bleus dismantled their hosts in the first half will have alerted their rivals.

Key statistics

These two teams are 168 places apart in the FIFA Rankings and boy did it show tonight! In the first half France took the game away from their hosts with three goals in 12 minutes as they registered nine shots on goal to Moldova’s zero.

France had only won one of its last four away games but this turned out to be an easy chance to improve that ratio and Les Bleus have now won 13 of their last 18 in total.

Spiridon has only won one of his 12 games in charge of Moldova. He wouldn’t have expected too much from this match but he’ll hope his team can improve from here. Worryingly, his side has only scored in five of his 12 games in the hot seat.

What’s next?

Next up Les Bleus go back home to welcome Iceland, and their opponents will present a good challenge to France as one of the teams in Group H which is capable of living with the best. But the Euro 2020 betting odds have rightly installed France as a potential tournament winner and their showing tonight did nothing to question that.

For Moldova, it’s a trip to Turkey, and that won’t be much easier after their hosts started with a good win away to Albania.



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Griezmann happy at ‘home’

Alvaro Morata doesn't envisage talisman Antoine Griezmann departing Atletico Madrid any time soon.

The French international has often been touted for a move away from the Spanish capital, with Barcelona heavily interested in his services last summer, before Griezmann announced via an elaborate documentary that he wanted to stay.

Morata, who joined Atletico on loan from Chelsea in January, can't see the key forward leaving this summer.

"I'm not worried. In general I see Antoine very happy with us. This is his home and I think he's happy here," said the Spaniard.

Morata is thankful to be involved with Spain after a tough spell at Chelsea saw his career stalling under the stewardship of Maurizio Sarri.

He says he now feels ready to get back to his very best form, for both club and country, suggesting he finally feels trusted again by his coaches.

"I needed trust, that's for sure," he added. "I came from a bad time but that's in the past, let's leave all that behind.

"Right now, I'm where I've wanted to be for a very long time and that's what matters. I'm very grateful to my new coach as well as to the national team coach for their trust because it's thanks to them that I'm reaching my highest level again and I'm enjoying the pitch."

Spain are 2/11 to defeat Norway in their Group F opener on Saturday. The visitors are 12/1, with the draw priced at 6/1.

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Euro 2020: World Champions turn to Europe

Moldova vs France

France swept all before them at Russia 2018 to win the World Cup in true Gallic style; and now Les Bleus are about to get their Euro 2020 campaign under way at the Stadionul Zimbru in Moldova.

Even before a ball is kicked Didier Deschamp’s team is up there in the Euro 2020 betting odds as a likely winner, along with the likes of Belgium, England and Spain.

And they couldn’t have asked for a much gentler start to the next challenge. No disrespect to Moldova, but when Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe arrive in Chisnau, a world ranking of 170 is unlikely to be of much help!

It should be a regulation win for Les Bleus, but as we often say, it’s 11 against 11 and if the home crowd can raise the roof to get behind their boys then who knows?

Talking Points

France players in the mood

There are few better sights than France in full flow, and when their players are in the mood the football can be breathtaking. Deschamps claims he has a happy camp, though a couple of his big names have had something on their minds since the World Cup.

Following Atletico Madrid’s Champions League exit, speculation over Griezmann’s club future has intensified, with rumours of continued interest from Barcelona. The La Liga champions were tracking the France star in the summer and may still be hopeful of capturing his signature in 2019, though Premier League giants Manchester United are also said to be interested. And that might be tempting for the Atleti man as his France team-mate Paul Pogba has settled well under the leadership of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Pogba is a man we’ll see often in the Euro 2020 highlights if he can replicate the form he showed in the World Cup and, indeed, in the Premier League after the departure of Jose Mourinho. Red Devils fans will hope the gifted midfielder’s mood swings are a thing of the past.

Paul Pogba is a man to watch in France in their upcoming match against Moldova in Euro 2020

Paul Pogba during his training with Didier Deschamps

One of the biggest news stories of Russia 2018 was the emergence of PSG’s Kylian Mbappe as a world class talent as he terrorised defences with his electric pace, trickery and killer instinct.

It could be a torrid night for the Moldova defence.

Damage limitation for Moldova?

This is a baptism of fire for the hosts, who find themselves in a very tough Group H, containing a dangerous Turkey side and the well organised and perennial achieving Iceland, alongside the World Champions of course. Tiny Andorra provides a chance for a win, and Moldova has proved it can take points from the lesser lights, recently beating San Marino and drawing with Belarus and Luxembourg.

But the cold hard facts are that they are currently ranked as the fifth worst side in Europe, and head coach Alexandru Spiridon has won only one of the 11 games he’s been in charge.

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Midfielder Radu Ginsari is the current top scorer with seven goals and can play as an attacking midfielder or wide man. But Moldova’s highest profile player is Cagliari defensive midfielder Artur Ionita. The tough tackler has been a big influence in Serie A this season and will have a lot of work to do on Friday.


Moldova is yet to qualify for a major championships having finished bottom of Group D in the run up to World Cup 2018; and they finished third in their Nations League group.

France also failed to win their Nations League, missing out on a semi-final place, losing to a resurgent Holland, but they have recently beaten Uruguay and Germany and have won 12 of their last 17 games, scoring 30 goals

Betting Tip

Moldova vs France France, Asian Handicap -2.25 @ 1.82
March 23, 03:45 (GMT+8)

When we take a look at the us odds for this fixture it’s clear as day that Asian Handicap Betting is the way to go. The hosts need a lift at odds of 12.00 to win, while Les Bleus are at a tiny 1.11 and the draw is an unlikely outcome at 8.75.

Under Spiridon, Moldova has had six clean sheets in 11 games but has failed to score in seven, and if there is a glimmer of hope, France has won just one for its last four away games.

I can’t see anything other than a comfortable start for Les Bleus and I suspect Mbappe could run riot.

?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.




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Giroud hints at Blues exit

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud has admitted that he may well have to consider his future at Stamford Bridge, as he is frustrated at a lack of starting opportunities.

The 32-year-old France international has scored nine goals in nine appearances in the Europa League this season, but has been restricted to just six starts in the Premier League, with the January arrival of loanee Gonzalo Higuain hampered his chance of gaining further game-time.

And Giroud says that that situation is starting to frustrate him, with the former Arsenal frontman having just 12 league starts to his name since his move from the Gunners in January 2018.

He told RTL: "Of course it is frustrating. Today I have the impression that there is clearly no competition since January.

"I know that I will only play in the Europa League. I try to do what it takes to be the most effective and the most important for the team.

"My future may be hectic this summer. I am not afraid to go down a level to have more playing time and it could be that I end my career in France."

Chelsea and Giroud have been drawn to face Slavia Prague in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, which currently offers the Blues a route back into the Champions League next season.

In the league they currently stand in sixth place, three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.

The Blues are available at 2/1 to finish in the top four come the end of the season, while they are 7/4 to go all the way and win the Europa League.

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