Sunday, December 5, 2021

Simeone hails Griezmann as Atletico prepare in style for Anfield trip

SoccerNews in La Liga 1 Nov 2021

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Antoine Griezmann produced his best performance of the season to thrill Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone, yet the LaLiga champions must get by without his threat at Liverpool on Wednesday.

Back at Atletico for a second spell after a misfiring stint at Barcelona, there was a touch of vintage Griezmann about his display in Sunday’s 3-0 home win over Real Betis.

Since making his LaLiga debut with Real Sociedad against Villarreal on August 29 in 2010, only four players have scored more LaLiga goals than Griezmann’s haul of 157 in 403 games. Those players are a special group: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Luis Suarez.

Some 95 of those goals have come in 188 games for Atletico, at a rate of one every 156.29 minutes, and there are promising signs that Griezmann is rediscovering his old confidence with the Rojiblancos.

Simeone watched the Frenchman create four chances against Betis, the joint most on the team, alongside Angel Correa and Yannick Carrasco. That total did not only beat his previous highest number in a game this season, but it doubled his entire season’s LaLiga tally.

Two of the chances he created were defined by Opta as big chances, meaning that the person on the end of the chance would have reasonably been expected to score. That was not how it turned out, with neither resulting in a goal, but Simeone was suitably impressed. Luis Suarez and Jose Gimenez were among those who could not put away chances made for them by Griezmann.

“Looking at today’s game, we found the usual Griezmann,” Simeone said. “Working, insisting, looking for scoring chances, getting into positions, having chances to score. That’s the way we were looking for him to be when we thought of him.”

Three of Griezmann’s four goals since rejoining Atletico in August have come in the Champions League, with his double against Liverpool last time out in the competition not enough for Simeone’s side as they slipped to a 3-2 home defeat. Griezmann’s red card in the second half of that game means he will not be involved at Anfield.

Griezmann had 65 touches against Betis, the most he has had for Atletico in a game during this second spell, with this being his 11th appearance for the club since leaving Camp Nou.

These are all promising signs for a player who appeared to have lost his way at Barcelona, and Liverpool will surely be relieved they will not encounter his threat in Wednesday’s game.

Atletico sit a precarious second in Group B, five points adrift of Liverpool and level on points with Porto, who travel to face Milan.

Simeone, who watched from the stands against Betis after his dismissal in Atletico’s previous game against Levante, can now begin to think about another clash with Jurgen Klopp’s team.

“We were busy in LaLiga,” the head coach said on Sunday evening. “We needed to win again to be up there with the contenders, and starting tomorrow another competition begins for which we will start to prepare tonight or tomorrow morning.”

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