Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Simeone backs Griezmann stance on Ribery

SoccerNews in La Liga 14 Oct 2016

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Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has hailed Antoine Griezmann’s growing maturity after the France international laughed off questions over his ability from Franck Ribery.

Griezmann was top scorer and named best player at Euro 2016 after his six goals propelled France to the final, where they lost to Portugal.

His international exploits came on the back of another wonderful season for Atletico in which he scored 22 league goals as the Rojiblancos narrowly lost out to Barcelona in the race for the title.

There has been no let-up this season either with the former Real Sociedad man top of the Pichichi standings with a further six strikes to his name.

Griezmann’s excellence has failed to impress Bayern Munich winger Ribery, however, who says the forward needs to produce that level of performance over a longer period.

“For me, you have to prove yourself over 10, 12 or 15 years if you want to be among the best. Do that and then I will congratulate you,” said the Bayern Munich winger.

Griezmann issued a measured response, telling Eurosport: “I will continue working. As he says, we’ll see at the end what kind of player I am, but I know I’m on the right track.

“Everyone has an opinion. To my father, for example, I’m the best player in the world. To the fans of Atletico, too.”

Griezmann’s words were, according to Simeone, another indication of the 25-year-old’s increasing stature at the Vicente Calderon.

The Argentine told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s home game with Granada: “He [Griezmann] is a guy who has very clear ideas.

“He has matured very well in the time he has spent with us. I am not worried that there is pressure on him.

“I cannot observe the opinions of everyone but I always respect opinions. And I thought Griezmann responded brilliantly to Ribery. There is nothing more to say on that.”

Atletico lead the Liga table after seven games on goal difference from city rivals Real Madrid, and will expect to maintain their unbeaten start at home to a Granada side without a win.

Simeone was understandably preaching caution, however, with Lucas Alcaraz taking over at Granada earlier this month.

“We know their coach has certain characteristics, and is very competitive,” he added.

“It has always been that way when he has faced us and Granada have players with strong offensive qualities, guys who play well from midfield forwards.

“We must focus on us. We do not know what they will do because of the coaching change. We have to start strong, it’s key to these rivalries.”

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