Can Griezmann show World Cup form for Atletico if Barcelona meet in time?
#Griezmann #show #World #Cup #form #Atletico #Barcelona #meet #time Welcome to Alaska Green Light Blog, here is the new story we have for you today:
The 2022 World Cup was unique for many reasons.
For Europe’s top clubs, it was the first World Cup to be staged in the Middle East and the first to be played mid-season.
Of course, one thing that didn’t change was that players could use the tournament as a platform to show what they could do on the biggest stage and maybe make big moves at the back.
While Josko Gvardiol, Enzo Fernandez, Alexis Mac Allister and Jude Bellingham are among the players who might fall into this category, Antoine Griezmann is different.
Griezmann is not the youngster to make his mark, but he shone in Qatar as he arguably redefined his own position in seven games.
That’s not to say Griezmann hasn’t been impressive this season ahead of the World Cup. Prior to the tournament, he had directly contributed to 10 goals for Atletico Madrid, scoring five and creating as many.
Griezmann’s form has evolved over a season in which he had to settle for a back-up role until September 18 as Atleti attempted to sidestep a financial clause in their loan deal with Barcelona that would have come into effect with the 31-year-old a certain number of minutes played.
Had that clause been activated, Atleti would have had to pay €40m to re-sign Griezmann. So they paid less than half to bring him back to the club permanently in October.
In the highlight of this weekend’s LaLiga fixtures, Atleti face off against Barca. At the start of this game, Griezmann is a player reinvented.
The creator at the top
Griezmann has returned from the World Cup with a vigor and panache he may not have seen since his prime at Atleti in 2017-2019.
His goal contributions sit at 13 (five more than any of his team-mates) after three assists in two appearances since Atleti’s season restarted – one game in LaLiga and one in the Copa del Rey.
Griezmann joins Alvaro Morata as the club’s top scorer, while his tally of seven assists sits four ahead of second-best Joao Felix, who looks set to leave the club this month. None of his team-mates come close to matching Griezmann’s 42 chances created, 35 of which come from open play.
But it’s Griezmann’s positioning that’s the really interesting aspect of his good form.
Didier Deschamps has often used Griezmann as a second striker in international football. That was the position he played at Euro 2016 and during France’s successful run at the 2018 World Cup.
But in Qatar, Griezmann was used as the strongest midfield trio, showing his ability not only to find space in the last third but to oversee games overall.
Only Kylian Mbappe (49) was involved in more shooting attack sequences for France than Griezmann (30) at the tournament.
However, of Griezmann’s 361 touches in open play, only 14 came into the opposition’s box, with the vast majority clustered in the center of the park.
Not that it stopped Griezmann from using his influence. He provided three assists and led the competition alongside Harry Kane, Bruno Fernandes, Ivan Perisic and Lionel Messi. In contrast to all these players, however, Griezmann’s expected assists (xA) of 3.6 was actually slightly below. In essence, he created better odds for those assists than his peers.
That quality was demonstrated with a superb cross from Olivier Giroud for France’s second goal in their 2-1 quarter-final win over England, having previously served up Aurelien Tchouameni to save Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry on most Assists to overtake Les Bleus. Griezmann’s 28 assists are the most by a French player for his country in the last 50 years.
Griezmann’s 22 chances created were the most of the tournament, although only nine of those came from open play. When it came to creativity, Griezmann was at the top of his game.
From poacher to playmaker
It was certainly about picking up where he left off for Griezmann when Atleti faced Elche in LaLiga on December 29. Diego Simeone’s side won 2-0 and Griezmann was great.
He set up both goals and created four chances. No player attempted more passes in the opposing half (37) or crossed (five).
Despite Atleti being set up in a 3-4-3 and Griezmann nominally positioned on the right flank, his average position was just in front of the halfway line.
It was similar on Wednesday in the Copa del Rey against Real Oviedo. While reportedly playing alongside Alvaro Morata in a front two, Griezmann’s touches were concentrated around the center line, with only two coming into the opposition’s box.
Interlocking with Morata on a line of attack or even playing as an inside striker in a 3-4-3 is, in principle, ideal for Griezmann to slip into a similar role to which he thrived during the World Cup.
Barca had better be careful
It seems the two-man attack would provide Griezmann with the perfect platform to show what Barca have never been able to unleash on a consistent basis in his two years at the club.
Not that his time at Barca was a complete failure. Griezmann has scored 35 goals and provided 16 assists in 102 appearances. But he looks like he’s got his mojo back now. In fact, no LaLiga player has assisted more goals in all competitions.
7 – No LaLiga player has provided more assists across all competitions this season than Antoine Griezmann, who has already provided more assists in 23 games in 2022/23 (seven) than in all of last season with Atlético de Madrid (six in 36 games). Stellar pic.twitter.com/bEFbpcusX1
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 4, 2023
Morata should provide the pace and work rate to stretch Barca’s back line and give Griezmann the space to fall between the lines and pull the strings.
Griezmann has averaged 73.4 touches per 90 minutes for Atleti this season, but only 4.8 inside the penalty area. His role has gradually evolved over the season and the World Cup has shown just how effective he can be.
Barca twice gave away the lead against Intercity Sant Joan d’Alacant in their Copa del Rey clash and with Inter and Bayern Munich appearing in the Champions League, the Blaugrana’s defense is vulnerable even if Xavi’s side concede just six goals in LaLiga has times.
If Griezmann, who at least is easier to spot with his bright pink hair, can replicate the influence he’s had in Qatar, Barca will struggle to stop him.