LaLiga: Stoppage time cameo against Atletico Madrid highlights Antoine Griezmann's fall from grace at Barcelona
Barcelona coach Quique Setien said after the game that bringing on Antoine Griezmann, who is Barca’s second most expensive player of all time, earlier against Atletico would not have helped his side.
Barcelona: Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann must have been relishing Tuesday’s match with former club Atletico Madrid, but even with his side drawing 2-2 and needing a winner to rescue their ailing LaLiga title bid, he was not called upon until added time.
A third draw in six matches further doomed Barca’s bid to win a third successive title and means arch-rivals Real Madrid can go four points clear at the top of the table with five games left if they beat Getafe on Thursday.
But after the match, the focus on Griezmann’s fall from grace since his 120-million-euro ($134.48 million) move from Atletico last year was even greater than the team’s title bid.
The World Cup winning forward has not started in three of Barca’s six games since returning to action, missing the crucial trips to Sevilla and Celta Vigo which also ended in draws.
But perhaps worst of all for him was coach Quique Setien’s declaration that bringing on Griezmann earlier would not have helped his side.
“It’s true that bringing him on for such little time is tough for a player of his level but the circumstances obliged me to do that. The other option was not to bring him on at all,” said Setien.
“The players on the pitch were playing well and it wasn’t easy to find a place for him without destabilising the team. I don’t normally make late changes but I thought a player like him could win the game with one play.”
Griezmann, who is Barca’s second most expensive player of all time, has only scored one league goal since Setien became manager in January. He netted seven times under previous coach Ernesto Valverde.
“Tomorrow I’ll speak with him. I won’t apologise to him but I understand he might feel bad and I also feel bad for him because he’s a great player and a great person,” added Setien.
Griezmann’s scant influence at Barca contrasts with the talismanic influence he had at Atletico, where he was leading scorer in each of his five seasons under Diego Simeone.
The Atletico coach’s reaction to his former star man’s cameo role said it all.
“I have no words,” he said.
Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.
Bundesliga, LaLiga witness more away wins in empty stadiums, fewer draws in Premier League, Serie A goes the other direction
One of the compromises to bring football back from pandemic enforced break was empty stadiums. Premier League, Bundesliga, LaLiga and Serie A finished without fans in attendance. But did it alter the outcomes? We ran the numbers.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says he has 'no doubt' Lionel Messi will sign new contract with club
Messi, whose deal expires in 2021, had called his side “weak” and “inconsistent” after they lost the league title to Real Madrid.
Despite winning four Champions League titles with Real, Bale divides opinion because of a perceived lack of commitment and a poor injury record.