Champions League

Griezmann attempting to find his feet on rocky ground at Barca

2019-10-01 11:09
Antoine Griezmann
Antoine Griezmann (Getty Images)

Spain - Antoine Griezmann said he knew it would be tough settling in at Barcelona but it may have proven harder than he thought.

Barca play at home to Inter Milan on Wednesday looking for lift-off in the Champions League after a goalless draw against Borussia Dortmund made for an underwhelming start to their latest bid for success in Europe. 

Griezmann also has something to prove after two steady but unspectacular months, elevated by moments rather than the consistency Ernesto Valverde would have hoped for when the Frenchman's 120-million euro release clause was activated last summer. 

"Against Bilbao he was not as involved as we would like," Valverde said at the start of the season. "But it is also up to the team to allow our strikers to participate more." 

When Griezmann scored twice in the next game, against Real Betis, before tossing glitter above his head at Camp Nou, it felt like he had made his big introduction and not just because of the theatrics. 

But five La Liga games have since brought only one more goal and assist while a handful of rather muted displays have left a sense of a player finding his feet, despite excelling in La Liga for the past nine seasons. 

After last week's win over Villarreal, Griezmann was asked about his start at Barcelona. "It's different," he said. "It's a different type of football, a different position and I knew it was going to be difficult to adjust. 

"But I feel like I'm improving every game and that's it. Three goals, it's not bad right? I can do better but I just arrived. I work for the team and if I can score or assist, even better." 

Griezmann has reason to defend himself. He joined a team that after five games had posted its lowest points total in 25 years, with last season's collapse against Liverpool still lingering, not least for Valverde, whose future is never secure. 

He also arrived as one of the world's premium strikers but found his new club pursuing Neymar for the duration of the summer, as if the Brazilian might add something he could not. 

There were relationships to repair too, with Barcelona's fans and players, after Griezmann not only turned them down 12 months before but embarassed them, by announcing his decision in a documentary. 

Inconsistency

"I've spent very little time with him to be honest," Lionel Messi told Diario Sport last month. "Since I returned, I’ve been injured and training on my own. 

"They went on tour and when they came back we saw each other a little in the dressing room but I’ve not been there in the training sessions. We’ll have the opportunity to share a lot of things."

Once in position, Griezmann has been played in "different positions", three times down the middle as a lone striker and five times on the left of the front three. 

In his eight games, there have been six different attacking combinations, the revolving pair around him involving all of Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele, Rafinha, Carles Perez, Ansu Fati and Messi. 

"He is a player who can play in several positions," Valverde said. "We have to see who plays but it's clear the system has to accommodate the players." 

When he announced he would be leaving Atletico in May, Griezmann said he wanted a fresh challenge and he would have been under no illusions about the inevitable dimming of status alongside the likes of Messi, Suarez and Dembele. 

The emergence of the 16-year-old sensation Fati and 21-year-old Perez has added two more into an already-crowded attacking roster. 

But consistency has been hard to come by in a team ridden with inconsistencies and in that context, Griezmann's start has been encouraging. Against Inter, he will hope for something more.

 

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Fixtures
Tuesday, 22 October 2019
Shakhtar Donetsk v Dinamo Zagreb, Metalist Stadium 18:55
Atletico Madrid v Bayer Leverkusen, Wanda Metropolitano 18:55
Juventus v Lokomotiv Moscow, Allianz Stadium 21:00
Manchester City v Atalanta, Etihad Stadium 21:00
Club Brugge v Paris SG, Jan Breydel Stadion 21:00
Olympiacos v Bayern Munchen, Karaiskakis Stadium 21:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Red Star Belgrade, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium 21:00
Galatasaray v Real Madrid, Turk Telekom Arena 21:00
Wednesday, 23 October 2019
Ajax v Chelsea, Amsterdam ArenA 18:55
RB Leipzig v Zenit St. Petersburg, Red Bull Arena 18:55
Benfica v Lyon, da Luz 21:00
Slavia Prague v Barcelona, Eden Arena 21:00
Genk v Liverpool, Luminus Arena 21:00
Red Bull Salzburg v Napoli, Red Bull Arena 21:00
Inter Milan v Borussia Dortmund, San Siro 21:00
Lille v Valencia, Stade Pierre-Mauroy 21:00
Tuesday, 05 November 2019
Barcelona v Slavia Prague, Camp Nou 19:55
Zenit St. Petersburg v RB Leipzig, Saint Petersburg Stadium 19:55
Liverpool v Genk, Anfield 22:00
Lyon v Benfica, Groupama Stadium 22:00
Valencia v Lille, Mestalla 22:00
Napoli v Red Bull Salzburg, San Paolo 22:00
Borussia Dortmund v Inter Milan, Signal Iduna Park 22:00
Chelsea v Ajax, Stamford Bridge 22:00
Wednesday, 06 November 2019
Bayern Munchen v Olympiacos, Allianz Arena 19:55
Lokomotiv Moscow v Juventus, Lokomotiv Stadium 19:55
Atalanta v Manchester City, Atleti Azzurri d'Italia 22:00
Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid, BayArena 22:00
Dinamo Zagreb v Shakhtar Donetsk, Maksimir Stadium 22:00
Paris SG v Club Brugge, Parc des Princes 22:00
Real Madrid v Galatasaray, Santiago Bernabeu 22:00
Red Star Belgrade v Tottenham Hotspur, Stadion Rajko Mitic 22:00
Tuesday, 26 November 2019
Lokomotiv Moscow v Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Stadium 19:55
Galatasaray v Club Brugge, Turk Telekom Arena 19:55
Juventus v Atletico Madrid, Allianz Stadium 22:00
Atalanta v Dinamo Zagreb, Atleti Azzurri d'Italia 22:00
Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk, Etihad Stadium 22:00
Real Madrid v Paris SG, Santiago Bernabeu 22:00
Red Star Belgrade v Bayern Munchen, Stadion Rajko Mitic 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Olympiacos, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium 22:00
Wednesday, 27 November 2019
Valencia v Chelsea, Mestalla 19:55
Zenit St. Petersburg v Lyon, Saint Petersburg Stadium 19:55
Liverpool v Napoli, Anfield 22:00
Barcelona v Borussia Dortmund, Camp Nou 22:00
Slavia Prague v Inter Milan, Eden Arena 22:00
Genk v Red Bull Salzburg, Luminus Arena 22:00
RB Leipzig v Benfica, Red Bull Arena 22:00
Lille v Ajax, Stade Pierre-Mauroy 22:00
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