Not long ago, Ronald Koeman met Antoine Griezmann (Mâcon, France, 29 years old) the day before playing a league game. “You’re going to rest,” the technician warned him, aware of the accumulation of minutes he had been carrying. Griezmann, exhausted, accepted the plan. But when the coach recited the line-up, he placed the Frenchman on the far left to the surprise of the attacker, who, of course, did not protest. But his legs demanded oxygen and if in January it was a whirlwind – seven goals and eight assists – it faded in February without celebrating so much.
Substitute against Elche and Sevilla in the last two games, he also took it as a warning to his errors in the definition. Something strange in a striker who at Real and Atlético got used to scoring goals from a few occasions; but also a circumstance that cannot be repeated against Sevilla in the round of the Copa semifinal (21.00, Telecinco and DAZN), after Barça fell 2-0 at the Pizjuán.
Griezmann does not drink, he takes care of his diet and after each training session he receives the attention of a trusted recuperator at home. And he is one of the seven players of the 25 of the first team who has not yet gone through the infirmary. Significant if one takes into account that it is the quarter that has played the most minutes (2,659) – behind De Jong (3,155), Messi (2,812) and Alba (2,775) -, and also that an injury occurs every five days, and there are already 31 since preseason. “His results in physical tests are surprising both in aerobic capacity and in the sprints“Acknowledge sources from the sports city. But he needed to put his foot on the ground.
Since Athletic at the beginning of January, Griezmann played 13 consecutive starting duels and completed eight to accumulate 1,226 minutes out of 1,290 (because in the Super Cup and in the Cup they played four extensions), which represents 95% of the total. But he no longer wants to miss out on what is important, especially since in the previous year he was left out of the once in big games like Bayern or Madrid, although to his personal satisfaction the team did not win a game without him starting. It was another moment.
During the previous season, it was difficult for Messi to accept the arrival of Griezmann because Bartomeu had previously denied it and because he did not like that he rejected the team a year before with a documentary produced by Piqué. Something that made the 10th, on the table, look for Luis Suárez before the Frenchman, also because he did not want his friend of the soul to leave as in the end happened. “But Antoine is a very positive guy and has made some initiative to get us all together and create pineapple,” says a voice from the locker room. And Messi already understands with the French while the team also looks for him.
Last year, he shot 75 times and this time he already has 84. The problem is that he does not shine in his own, in the definition. Thus, while in the previous season 36 shots were on target (18% correct) and 15 at the net (20%), in this season 35 have gone between the three suits (41%) but only 12 have been goals (14 %). So Koeman has singled him out twice for his lack of effectiveness. Criticism that Griezmann accepts – although he would prefer to play as a second striker rather than on the flank – better than others. More than anything because he understands – as happens to the bulk of the squad – that the club no longer knows how to defend its own, installed in misgovernment as it is. Among other things, he was upset that they related him to PSG and that no one from the entity denied it, just as he was criticized when he traveled to Paris after the European debacle against PSG (1-4). Not so the other three who also left, all with permission from the Barça club.
Comfortable in the city and in the Pedralbes neighborhood, where he lives with his wife and children, also with two dogs, Griezmann awaits the Sevilla line-up to find out if Koeman had given him the promised break or prefers others in his position. If he plays, however, he has to move a piece.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.