Griezmann Rescues Barcelona First Leg Draw At Napoli

Barcelona’s French forward Antoine Griezmann (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first-leg football match between SSC Napoli and FC Barcelona at the San Paolo Stadium in Naples on February 25, 2020. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

Antoine Griezmann rescued a 1-1 draw for Barcelona at Napoli in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

Frenchman Griezmann struck just before the hour mark for Barca in Naples after Dries Mertens had put the hosts ahead in the 30th minute with his 121st Napoli goal, equalling the club all-time top scorer Marek Hamsik.

Barcelona ended the game with 10 men after Arturo Vidal was sent off with two minutes to go after picking up two yellow cards, following an angry clash with Napoli defender Mario Rui.

Lionel Messi failed to score on his first appearance at the Stadio San Paolo where Napoli legend Diego Maradona reigned supreme three decades ago.

The 32-year-old Messi scored four goals at the weekend in Barcelona’s 5-0 win over Eibar that put the Spaniards back the top of La Liga, but could not add to his 114 Champions League goals.

The clash was the first between the two teams and also a Champions League debut for Barcelona coach Quique Setien and Napoli’s Gennaro Gattuso, who both took over after the group stage.

Messi fired over on nine minutes after combining well with Frenkie de Jong but Gattuso’s side piled the pressure on the Catalans.

Their pressing paid off on the half-hour mark, with Piotr Zielinski breaking free down the right before finding Mertens, who curled a magnificent finish past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

He equalled Hamsik’s record and is now six goals clear of Maradona, but was forced off in the second half after a Sergio Busquets tackle for which the Spaniard will be suspended for the second leg.

Barcelona did not waste much time in getting on level terms, as Messi and Busquets combined to send Semedo into the box in the 57th minute.

The Portuguese full-back crossed low for Griezmann to power home right-footed.

Ter Stegen denied Lorenzo Insigne with Jose Callejon also missing a chance for a second, as did Messi with eight minutes to go.

Vidal was sent off after a sliding tackle on Rui before appearing to headbutt the Napoli defender.

The Chilean will also miss the return leg at the Camp Nou on March 18.

AFP

Barcelona Fined Paltry 300 Euros For Tapping Up Griezmann

Barcelona’s French forward Antoine Griezmann looks on during the Spanish league football match between Granada FC and FC Barcelona at Nuevo Los Carmenes stadium in Granada on September 21, 2019. JORGE GUERRERO / AFP

 

Barcelona have been fined a mere 300 euros ($328) after the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) found the club guilty of tapping up Antoine Griezmann last season while he was still attached to Atletico Madrid.

Barca signed Griezmann after paying his 120-million-euro buyout clause in July, prompting Atletico to claim the Catalan club had negotiated with the Frenchman without their permission.

The RFEF published its decision on Thursday, in which it said Barcelona were guilty of holding talks with Griezmann but insisted it was not possible to prove a formal contract was signed.

The RFEF also acknowledged the insignificance of the fine, which represents only 0.000045 percent of Barcelona’s 671.42 million-euro salary budget this season.

The RFEF’s statement read: “Taking into account the economic capacity of the club and the amount of the fine, this committee is aware that the payment of 300 euros, beyond its merely symbolic character, will not damage the sanctioned club and, probably, will not persuade other clubs in the same situation in the future to adjust their conduct to the regulations.”

But the RFEF said that was “not a sufficient reason” to impose the other possible sanction of closing Camp Nou for a match, which it says would be to punish “infractions of a different nature”.

Barcelona had come close to signing Griezmann in 2018, only for the striker to decide to stay and sign a new contract at Atletico Madrid.

But Griezmann announced his decision to leave Atletico in May, explaining that he wanted to seek a new challenge away from the club where he had spent five successful seasons.

The RFEF said Barcelona “initiated and maintained negotiations with the player without prior written notice to Atletico Madrid”.

But concluded that “it has not been demonstrated that the contract between Antoine Griezmann and Barcelona was formally signed”.

The statement added that the decision “attaches no disciplinary responsibility whatsoever to the player”.

Griezmann has played seven times so far this season for Barcelona and scored three goals.

AFP

I Tried To Copy Messi And LeBron, Says Griezmann After Barca Brace

 

Antoine Griezmann copied Lionel Messi for the goal and LeBron James for the celebration but it was his night for Barcelona on Sunday after he scored twice in a 5-2 win over Real Betis.

Griezmann imitated the basketball superstar by tossing confetti into the air to celebrate his second at Camp Nou, a curling effort into the corner that he said was inspired by watching Messi.

“I saw Leo do this in training, so I tried to copy him,” said Griezmann. “And for the celebration, I like the ritual that LeBron did so we tried to do it as well.”

Yet Griezmann was the star, if only for the night with Messi in the stands, the Argentinian still short of fitness following a calf injury.

A brilliant Barcelona performance also delivered a resounding response to the doubts arising from their defeat by Athletic Bilbao last weekend, among them a reliance on Messi, the need for Neymar and the future of Ernesto Valverde as coach.

But as Carles Perez, Jordi Alba and Arturo Vidal made it three, four and five, the gloom was forgotten, along with Nabil Fekir’s opener in the 15th minute, that had Betis level at half-time.

“After a defeat, there is always a big reaction,” Griezmann said. “We really wanted to play another game and when so many players are missing, the team steps up.”

Loren Moron slammed a late strike into the top corner for Betis but by then the game was up as Barca ensured no further ground was lost on Atletico Madrid, who beat Leganes 1-0 earlier on Sunday, or Real Madrid, who were held to a 1-1 draw on Saturday by Real Valladolid.

Timely display

Barcelona will hope to have Messi back for the trip to Osasuna next weekend but with Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele both out for longer, Griezmann’s statement display was timely.

Whether it also affects the club’s attempts to prise Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain remains to be seen.

“I have to admit today was an important day for Antoine,” said Valverde.

The crowd also enjoyed a goal from the 21-year-old Perez, making his first Barca start, and a substitute appearance from Anssumane Fati, who at 16 became the second youngest player ever to play for the club in La Liga.

Sergio Busquets was at fault for Betis’ opener as he gave the ball away, allowing Fekir to drive in his debut goal since he moved from Lyon in July.

But Barca were undeterred and after Rafinha missed an excellent chance to equalise, Griezmann took over, volleying in on the stretch four minutes before half-time, past the weak hand of Dani Martin.

If Griezmann’s first owed something to the goalkeeper, his second was unstoppable. He collected the ball 25 yards out and used Sidnei as a marker to bend his shot around the defender and inside the far post.

Griezmann ran to the corner where confetti was poured into his hands. He threw it into the air above his head.

Barca were relentless as Perez steered a third into the bottom corner and Alba made it four, latching onto a superb Busquets pass inside the full-back.

There was still time for two scintillating strikes, the first from Vidal, who was slid in by Griezmann, and the second by Loren, who was given too much space. It was no more than a consolation.

Barcelona stay behind Atletico, who maintained their perfect start with another 1-0 victory, this time over Leganes as Vitolo came off the bench to score a second-half winner at Butarque.

Joao Felix, Atletico’s 126 million-euro ($140 million) buy from Benfica and much-hailed replacement for Griezmann, was again quiet but again delivered the match’s most memorable moment.

The 19-year-old’s perfectly-timed pass provided set Vitolo free while Felix had been picked out by Kieran Trippier, who was faultless on his second Atletico start.

Griezmann Nets Brace As Barca Put Five Past Betis

 

Antoine Griezmann proved Barcelona can win without Lionel Messi and do without Neymar too after he scored twice in a 5-2 demolition of Real Betis on Sunday.

Griezmann tossed confetti into the air as he celebrated his second at Camp Nou, where he was the star performer, if only for a night in the absence of Messi, who is still short of fitness.

A brilliant Barcelona performance delivered a resounding response to the doubts from their defeat to Athletic Bilbao last weekend, among them a reliance on Messi, the need for Neymar and the future of Ernesto Valverde as coach.

But as Carles Perez, Jordi Alba and Arturo Vidal made it three, four and five, the gloom was forgotten, along with Nabil Fekir’s opener in the 15th minute, that had Betis level at half-time.

Loren Moron slammed a stunning strike into the top corner for Betis late on but by then the game was up as Barca ensured no more ground was lost on Atletico Madrid, who beat Leganes 1-0 earlier on Sunday, or Real Madrid, who were held to a 1-1 draw on Saturday by Real Valladolid.

Barcelona will hope to have Messi back for the trip to Osasuna next weekend but with Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele both out for longer, Griezmann’s statement display was timely.

This was his first goal at Camp Nou in 14 appearances, five of them for Real Sociedad and eight for Atletico, and his overall performance was of someone ready to lead, rather than serve merely as a foil for Messi.

Suarez and Messi were in the crowd, who enjoyed a goal from the 21-year-old Perez, making his first start, and a substitute appearance from Anssumane Fati, who at 16 became the second youngest player ever to play for Barcelona in La Liga.

Sergio Busquets was at fault for Betis’ opener as he gave the ball away, allowing Fekir to drive into the corner.

But Barca looked dangerous and were undeterred, even if Gerard Pique, on his 500th appearance for the club, was lucky to escape only with a yellow card when he fouled Loren as the last man.

Rafinha missed an excellent chance to equalise before Griezmann took over, volleying in on the stretch four minutes before half-time, past the weak hand of Dani Martin.

If Griezmann’s first owed something to the goalkeeper, his second was unstoppable. He collected the ball 25 yards out and used Sidnei as a marker to bend his shot around and into the far corner.

Griezmann ran to the corner where confetti was poured into his hands. He tossed it into the air above his head.

Barca were relentless as Perez drove into the bottom corner and Alba made it four, latching onto a superb Busquets pass inside the full-back.

There was still time for two scintillating strikes, the first from Vidal, who was slid in by Griezmann, and the second by Loren, who was given too much space. It was no more than a consolation.

Barcelona stay behind Atletico, who maintained their perfect start with another 1-0 victory, this time over Leganes as Vitolo came off the bench to score a second-half winner at Butarque.

After beating Getafe last weekend by the same scoreline, Atletico have begun the season in familiar fashion, with efficiency trumping invention despite an ambitious set of summer signings.

Joao Felix, Atletico’s 126 million-euro ($140 million) buy from Benfica and much-hailed replacement for Griezmann, was quiet again but again delivered the match’s most memorable moment.

The 19-year-old’s perfectly-timed pass provided the assist for Vitolo while Felix had been picked out by Kieran Trippier, who was faultless on his second Atletico start.

Atletico Will Take Griezmann Grievance To FIFA – Report

Griezmann Booed As Levante Hold Atletico
Atletico Madrid’s French forward Antoine Griezmann reacts during the Spanish League football match between Levante and Atletico Madrid at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium in Valencia on May 18, 2019.
JOSE JORDAN / AFP

 

Atletico Madrid will challenge the amount Barcelona paid to acquire Antoine Griezmann’s transfer, Spanish media reported on Saturday.

Sports daily AS said Atletico will go to FIFA, the governing body of world football, to argue that Barcelona owe more than the 120 million euros ($135 million) release clause deposited by a lawyer for the player on Friday.

AS wrote that Atletico wants to have both Barcelona and Griezmann punished.

Contacted by AFP on Saturday, the club refused to comment.

Atletico complained that Barcelona and Griezmann negotiated the deal before the buy-out price dropped from 200 million euros at the start of July.

“Atletico Madrid believes that the termination of the contract took place before the end of last season,” the club said in a statement on Friday, adding that Griezmann had made that clear in his actions and words.

Atletico said in a statement that Griezmann had gone to the headquarters of Spanish Football League to “unilaterally” break his contract after Barca met the release clause, and added they had already “begun appropriate procedures” to defend their “rights and legitimate interests”.

emi/pb/bsp

Griezmann Close To Barca Move – Reports

 

Atletico Madrid’s World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann is nearing a transfer to Barcelona, according to reports on Thursday in his native France and in Spain.

Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo says the Catalans will pay Griezmann’s release clause of 120m euros ($135m) and the 28-year-old has signed a five-year deal at the Camp Nou.

French daily L’Equipe add Barca have already sent the bank transfer to the capital city club.

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Griezmann failed to show up for his side’s pre-season gathering on Sunday after he had announced in May he would be leaving the Wanda Metropolitano but could not reveal his destination until his release clause dropped from 200 million euros to 120 million euros on July 1.

On Friday, Atletico accused Barcelona and Griezmann of a “lack of respect” after the Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed the two clubs had held talks about the former Real Sociedad forward.

Griezmann joined Atletico in 2014 and has scored 133 goals in 257 appearances lifting the Copa del Rey as well as the Europa League.

AFP

Griezmann Booed As Levante Hold Atletico

Griezmann Booed As Levante Hold Atletico
Griezmann reacts during the match between Levante and Atletico Madrid at the Ciutat de Valencia stadium in Valencia on May 18, 2019. JOSE JORDAN / AFP

 

Antoine Griezmann was jeered during his last game for Atletico Madrid and Rodrigo might have scored his final goal for the club as they came from behind to draw 2-2 against Levante in La Liga on Saturday. 

Griezmann received whistles at the City of Valencia Stadium from the visiting fans, who were also heard chanting “out, out, out” before goals from Sergio Camello and Rodrigo ensured Atletico at least ended the season with a draw.

“We had to highlight the work of the gladiators who are leaving,” Simeone said afterwards.

“Their greatest legacy is not the titles won, it is their commitment and respect. I love them very much.”

Simeone has dismissed fears of a mass exodus, despite both Diego Godin and Griezmann already announcing their departures, with the likes of Rodrigo, Juanfran and Filipe Luis all expected to follow.

If this was to be their farewell outing for Atletico, it was an underwhelming finale as Levante, who only secured safety from relegation last weekend, claimed a deserved point.

They might have been disappointed not to take all three after leading 2-0 at half-time thanks to goals from Erick Cabaco and Roger Marti before then playing against 10 men for the best part of 40 minutes after Angel Correa was sent off.

“We could have won 3-0, but we relaxed.” said Levante coach Paco Lopez.

Atletico fought back, Rodrigo firing into the top corner before 18-year-old substitute Camello scored his first goal for the club, finishing at the back post.

Simeone’s side finish second again with 76 points, three fewer than last season. They come in above Real Madrid for a second consecutive year but will end up 13 points behind Barcelona, if the Catalans win away at Eibar on Sunday.

Griezmann was unable to add to his tally of 133 goals in 257 games across all competitions in what became a bitter end to his five successful seasons for the club.

Godin was given a rousing goodbye ceremony at the Wanda Metropolitano last weekend but the timing of Griezmann’s announcement, perhaps deliberately, meant he avoided a last meeting with the Atleti fans.

But those that made the trip to Valencia were determined to make their displeasure known and it was noticeable that Griezmann made a swift exit after the final whistle.

Camello, born in Madrid and a product of Atletico’s academy, delivered a more positive message for the future and a timely reminder of Atletico’s ability to endure in recent years, despite the departures of their biggest stars.

“Football has no age limits,” Simeone added. “We will never stop making use of everything we can to ensure the club keeps growing.”

Levante took the lead through a brilliant opener from Cabaco, who flicked in with the back of his heel after a header back from Ruben Vezo.

Roger doubled the advantage shortly before half-time, intercepting a loose pass from Thomas Partey before skipping over Rodrigo and firing past Antonio Adan, who was standing in for the injured Jan Oblak.

Atletico’s task became more difficult when Correa was sent off for a petulant kick on Chema but Rodrigo gave them hope with a stunning strike into the top corner, before Koke’s shot fell kindly for Camello at the back post.

AFP

I Have Taken The Decision To Leave Atletico – Griezmann

28-year-old Antoine Griezmann has a contract until 2023 with Atletico, but has a buy out clause of 120 million euros. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

French striker Antoine Griezmann has told Atletico Madrid he will leave them in the close season, the Spanish club said on Twitter on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old Griezmann has a contract until 2023 with Atletico, but has a buy out clause of 120million euros ($134million) and has been the target of several approaches from La Liga rivals Barcelona.

“Antoine Griezmann has told the club he will not continue as a Rojiblanco (red and white, the club’s colours) next season,” the club said on Twitter.

Within a few moments the player then posted a video explaining himself.

“After speaking with Cholo (club coach Diego Simeone), then with Miguel Angel and the people in the hierarchy of the club I wanted to speak with you, the fans, who have always given me a lot of love,” said Griezmann, wearing a plain black t-shirt in front of a simple white background behind him.

“I wanted to tell you I have taken the decision to leave,” said the French 2018 World Cup winner.

“I have had five wonderful seasons here and you will always be in my heart,” said the affable forward known for doing dances from the video game Fortnite, when celebrating his goals.

“The truth is it has been difficult to take this route but it is what I feel I need and I would like to thank all of you for the love you have shown me during these five years.”

Griezmann has been the target of several approaches from La Liga rivals Barcelona.
Photo: OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP

 

With 133 goals in 252 games at Atletico the attacker has been ever-present and has rarely been unfit or injured.

He was a Champions League runner up in 2016, losing to arch-rivals Real Madrid. In 2018 however Atletico beat Marseille in the Europa League final.

Griezmann finished third for the Ballon d’Or in 2016, after France lost in the final to Portugal at the European Championships and was a huge presence as Les Bleus romped to a memorable World Cup win at Russia 2018 after which he also finished third for the Ballon d’Or.

AFP

Griezmann Stars As France Thrash Moldova In Euro 2020 Qualifier

France’s midfielder Antoine Griezmann kicks to score a goal during the Euro 2020 qualifying football match between Moldova and France, on March 22, 2019 at Zimbru stadium in Chisinau.
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Winger Antoine Griezmann scored one and set up another as World Cup winners France easily beat Moldova 4-1 in Chisinau in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier on Friday.

The Atletico Madrid attacker opened the scoring in the 24th minute of the Group H encounter before crossing for Raphael Varane to double the scores three minutes later.

Olivier Giroud equalled David Trezeguet as Les Bleus’ third highest scorer of all time with his 34th international goal nine minutes before the break and Kylian Mbappe completed the rout with three minutes left, before Vladimir Ambros claimed a late consolation for Moldova.

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Left-back Layvin Kurzawa was the only member of the starting lineup without a World Cup medal as Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman pulled out during the warm-up with a muscle issue and was replaced by Blaise Matuidi.

“We played a very consummate first half in terms of control and attacking organisation. The second half was less fulfilling due to substitutions,” said coach Didier Deschamps.

“We’ve opened our campaign well and the second game comes around quickly. In three days we have to do it again,” Deschamps added ahead of facing Iceland on Monday.

Griezmann had the best of the early chances but his effort from far out failed to threaten Alexei Koselev in the home side’s goal after 17 minutes.

The shaggy-haired wide-man scored his 27th goal for France seven minutes later, Manchester United playmaker Paul Pogba picking Griezmann out inside the box with a perfectly timed chip before he hit a lob first time to beat a flat-footed Koselev.

Griezmann then turned provider, his corner finding center-back Raphael Varane, who headed to double the visitors’ advantage at the Zimbru Stadium.

Giroud put to bed when he met late call-up Matuidi’s cross a left-footed volley.

Giroud missed an opportunity to move ahead of Trezeguet’s record 34 goals shortly after the break when his header from a Griezmann cross flew past the post.

Pogba could have added a second assist to Griezmann’s account but his header was parried away superbly by Koselev on 70 minutes, and the Manchester United man went close again with 11 minutes left when his shot could only find the side-netting.

Kylian Mbappe succeeded where Pogba failed on 87 minutes.

Lemar’s challenge on Eugeniu Cebotaru fed the Paris-Saint Germain forward who easily beat keeper Koselev.

The hosts claimed a consolation goal with 90 seconds of normal time remaining when midfielder Ambros capitalised on a rebound off the post to fire past Hugo Lloris.

Next up for France is Iceland, while as Moldova, who are yet to qualify for an international tournament, head to Turkey.

AFP

Messi Penalty Lifts Barca As Griezmann Eclipses Torres

Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (up) vies for the ball with Real Valladolid’s Spanish goalkeeper Jordi Masip (down) during the Spanish League football match between Barcelona and Real Valladolid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on February 16, 2019. Pau Barrena / AFP

 

Lionel Messi scored a penalty and missed another as La Liga leaders Barcelona ground out an unconvincing 1-0 win over Real Valladolid, while Antoine Griezmann surpassed Fernando Torres with his 130th goal for Atletico Madrid.

Messi’s fitness was again in the spotlight on Saturday after a niggling thigh strain in recent weeks, but he completed the full 90 minutes at the Camp Nou and hit the 30-goal mark at Barcelona for the 11th straight season.

The Argentine coolly dispatched a spot-kick just before half-time, drilling beyond the reach of Jordi Masip after Gerard Pique was bundled to the ground by Valladolid midfielder Michel.

Masip brilliantly tipped over a Messi volley soon after the interval and Luis Suarez wasted a huge opportunity to double the lead shortly after replacing Kevin-Prince Boateng with an hour gone.

Messi found himself booked for dissent after an apparent foul on him went unpunished, and he then blew the chance to kill off Valladolid when Masip kept out his second penalty of the night — awarded following a trip on Philippe Coutinho.

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The excellent Masip alertly gathered Messi’s follow-up header and again denied Suarez late on as Barca pulled seven points clear of Atletico ahead of their trip to Lyon in the Champions League last 16.

“We haven’t played well. The truth is it wasn’t a good match today. The only good thing is the victory,” Pique, who made his 300th appearance in La Liga told Movistar.

“Getting back on track with three points is important after two draws in the league. But we definitely have to improve. We have to be better on Tuesday otherwise we’ll have a tough time.”

 ‘Extraordinary player’ 

Griezmann scored a second-half winner in Atletico’s 1-0 victory at neighbours Rayo Vallecano to provide a timely boost going into next week’s showdown with Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus.

The French forward surpassed Torres — now playing for Sagan Tosu in Japan — for fifth all-time on the Atletico goalscoring charts as they shook off two successive defeats, including last week’s 3-1 loss at home to Real Madrid.

Griezmann struck for the tenth time in his last 11 outings, forcing home from six yards on 74 minutes after Alvaro Morata laid off a high, looping ball inside the area.

“Griezmann is an extraordinary player, he always adapts to what the team needs. He’s very important for us,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.

The late Luis Aragones, who coached Spain to the European Championship title in 2008, is Atletico’s record goalscorer with 172.

“It’s always tough at this stadium. We started off well and we had chances in the first 15 minutes such as Saul’s header, but then they improved,” Simeone added.

“Our second-half substitutions gave us more offensive strength and that allowed us to get our goal. It was a very tough match.”

Real Madrid, two points behind Atletico in third, could move back into second and to within six points of Barca when they host Girona on Sunday.

AFP

Griezmann On Target Again As Atletico Edge Closer To Barcelona

Griezmann On Target Again As Atletico Edge Closer To Barcelona
Atletico Madrid’s French forward Antoine Griezmann celebrates a goal during the Spanish league football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Getafe CF at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on January 26, 2019. OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP

 

Antoine Griezmann struck again as Atletico Madrid kept the pressure on Barcelona at the top of La Liga by beating in-form Getafe 2-0 on Saturday.

Griezmann now has eight goals in as many games, his latest helping Atletico register their sixth win in seven league matches. The only dropped points came in a respectable draw away to Sevilla.

Saul Niguez tapped in a second before half-time at the Wanda Metropolitano to complete an impressively smooth victory over a Getafe side that had lost only once, to Barcelona, in 12 outings.

Renowned for their tenacity, Getafe strayed in the final minutes, when Djene Dakonam and Leandro Cabrera were both sent off.

“From the beginning of January the team has been playing well,” Diego Simeone said. “We have injuries and I’m excited to think what we can do when they’re all fit again.”

“We were not good,” Getafe coach Jose Bordalas said. “I didn’t like my team, we weren’t like us.”

Griezmann could have been playing for Barca had his decision been different last summer but instead he is fast-becoming the sharpest thorn in their side, driving Atletico almost single-handedly at times to a sustained title challenge.

Alvaro Morata could yet join this month, even if reports in the Spanish press have suggested a deal with Chelsea is proving difficult to close.

But with Griezmann in this sort of form and Diego Costa expected back next month, perhaps Atleti are less in need, with some fans even appearing to chant against Morata’s arrival, although they were quickly drowned out by boos.

“The opinion is respectable, people can say what they want,” Simeone said. “I look for players that serve the club and the team.”

It is no coincidence that Griezmann’s surge has coincided with a consistent run for Atletico, which looks timely too, with Real Madrid in La Liga and Juventus in the Champions League both to come at the start of next month.

With those games in mind, Simeone will hope the thigh strain that forced his captain Diego Godin off at the interval is not serious. Atletico described the substitution as a “precaution”.

“He left with some discomfort,” Simeone said afterwards. “Let’s hope it’s nothing.”

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde had said earlier on Saturday that he considers Atletico the greatest threat to their title hopes from the Spanish capital and it is hard to argue given Simeone’s side are now just two points behind, eight closer than Real.

Barca and Real both have games in hand to come on Sunday, the former away to Girona and the latter up against Espanyol.

Griezmann’s shot in the 27th minute was too quick for goalkeeper David Soria, who was taken by surprise and beaten at his near post. The excellent Thomas Partey had battled through midfield and it was his pass that teed up Griezmann on the edge of the area.

Thomas was key again to the second, his lofted pass out wide allowing Lucas Hernandez to volley first-time into the six-yard box, where Nikola Kalinic should have finished. His effort was parried out and Saul slid in the rebound.

Godin departed during the interval, replaced by Juanfran, and Getafe could have pulled one back when Jose Gimenez misjudged a ball over the top. Angel Rodriguez nipped in but Gimenez did just enough to recover.

Getafe’s frustration built and boiled over at the end as Dakonam was shown a second yellow card in the 88th minute for a rash challenge on Thomas Lemar and then Cabrera followed him three minutes later for applauding the referee. It was a feisty end to a comfortable Atletico win.

AFP

Griezmann Brilliance keeps Atletico Second In La Liga

 

Antoine Griezmann preserved Atletico Madrid’s status as chief challengers to Barcelona in La Liga on Sunday after his stunning free-kick earned them a 1-1 draw at Sevilla.

Sevilla would have leapfrogged Atletico into second with a win at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan and were favourites to do so when Wissam Ben Yedder put them ahead eight minutes before the break.

Griezmann however produced a moment of magic by whipping home his fifth goal in as many games on the stroke of half-time to ensure a thrilling, and at times bad-tempered contest that featured 12 yellow cards ended with the spoils shared and Atletico two points behind leaders Barca.

Real Madrid’s stuttering form has left these two closest to Barca at the top and a riveting final 10 minutes highlighted how hard they were intent on pushing the reigning champions.

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However, the Catalans will likely be happiest with the result. They sit ahead of Atletico and four points away from Sevilla, with the chance to extend their lead at Getafe later on Sunday.

Sevilla exploded out of the blocks and the excellent Jesus Navas led the way. Navas turns 34 this year but his speed over short distances seems as sharp ever and Atletico were left chasing his heels throughout.

He delivered an array of crosses in the opening 20 minutes, with Roque Mesa and Sergio Escudero both arriving at the back post but failing to finish.

In between, Griezmann tested Tomas Vaclik with a bending effort from range but Sevilla remained in charge, Andre Silva’s shot hitting the inside of the post and flashing across a goal left vacant by the diving Jan Oblak.

The hosts got their reward in the 38th minute, and Navas was the instigator again. His cross was feathered by Daniel Carrico but still needed Ben Yedder to swivel and sweep it home with his left foot.

Ben Yedder might have made it two just after but his lifted finish met Oblak and instead Atletico levelled with the final action of a breathless opening half.

Atletico were awarded a free-kick in prime Griezmann territory and the World Cup winner struck it superbly with his left foot, flashing it across the rooted Vaclik and into the top right-hand corner.

Sevilla continued to have the better of the second half but chances were harder to come by. One Navas cross led to Ben Yedder flashing wide, while another had to be palmed away by Oblak.

Atletico survived, and could have won it in the last 10 minutes as Griezmann skipped clear but his finish was saved by Vaclik. Sevilla could have too snatched the points but Oblak pushed away Joris Gnagnon’s thundering drive.