Griezmann May Miss Season Finale Due To Thigh Injury

File photo: 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

 

Antoine Griezmann looks set to miss the rest of the season after Barcelona said on Sunday the France attacker had a thigh injury.

The World Cup winner went off at half-time of Saturday’s 1-0 win over Valladolid after apparently asking to be subbed.

“He came off because he had a problem,” Barcelona coach Quique Setien said Saturday. “It was him who asked for the change.”

“Tests this morning have shown that first-team player Antoine Griezmann has a muscle injury in the quadriceps of his right leg,” Barca said on their website.

“He is therefore not available for selection at the present time,” a statement said of the 29-year-old who has scored 15 goals in 46 games this season.

It would appear Griezmann will miss Barcelona’s final La Liga matches with Real Madrid needing five points from their final three games to win the title.

Barca also face a Champions League last-16 second leg on August 8 after drawing 1-1 at Napoli before the lockdown.

AFP

Antoine Griezmann Signs For Barcelona

 

Barcelona announced the signing of Antoine Griezmann on Friday after the Spanish champions paid La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid the 120 million euro ($135 million) release clause required to sign the World Cup winner.

“The player will sign a contract with his new club for the next five seasons, through to 30 June 2024, with a buyout clause of 800 million euros,” Barca said in a statement.

Friday’s announcement brings to an end a dispute between the two clubs and Griezmann, who had long aimed to move to the Catalan giants.

READ ALSO: AFCON: Dangote, Otedola To Splash $75,000 Per Goal On Super Eagles

The 28-year-old 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, even though he could not reveal his destination until his release clause dropped from 200 million euros to 120 million euros at the start of the month.

last week 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.

Atletico also claimed that Griezmann had told the club that he had struck a deal with Barcelona in March, just days before the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Juventus, which saw them dumped out by a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick after winning the first leg 2-0 in Madrid.

Griezmann joined Atletico in 2014 and has scored 133 goals in 257 appearances, lifting the Europa League in 2018.

He finished top scorer at Euro 2016 when France were beaten in the final on home soil by Portugal before helping to guide his team to World Cup triumph in Russia last year.

AFP

Griezmann Scores Twice As Atletico See Off Brugge

Antoine Griezmann (R) scores during the UEFA Champions League group A football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and Club Brugge at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on October 3, 2018. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Antoine Griezmann scored twice against Club Brugge on Wednesday as Atletico Madrid made a winning start at the stadium they hope to return to for the Champions League final next year.

Arnaut Groeneveld’s stunning long-range effort pulled Brugge level shortly before half-time but Griezmann added a second, before his driving run allowed Koke to wrap up a 3-1 victory late on.

The result maintains a perfect start for Diego Simeone’s side in Group A. They sit level on six points with Borussia Dortmund, whom they now play twice in succession, starting with a trip to Germany later this month.

This was Atletico’s first home game at the Wanda Metropolitano in this season’s tournament, 241 days before they hope to walk out here again for the final on June 1.

Simeone admitted the prospect of winning the cup on their own patch is a source of inspiration for his side and to do it, Griezmann will surely be key.

The Frenchman has now been involved in 17 of Atletico’s last 19 Champions League goals scored at home, chipping in with 12 goals and five assists.

A successful night was blighted only by injury, with both Diego Costa and Jose Gimenez forced off.

Costa sat out the last international round with Spain for personal reasons and he may now be likely to miss another.

Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Atletico are now unbeaten in six games and they started like a team with their tails up as Costa and Koke almost pulled off a neat one-two in the box while Griezmann strayed just offside before a superb lifted finish.

Thomas Lemar might have scored had Stefano Denswil not come sliding across to make a last-ditch tackle but it was the winger’s cross that found Griezmann at the back post soon after. Griezmann chested, controlled and steered the ball inside the far post.

Atleti looked almost too comfortable and Brugge seemed as surprised as anyone to equalise shortly before half-time.

Groeneveld rolled his studs over the ball 30 yards out and with no obvious option, whipped it, bending and dipping into the corner.

Filipe Luis came on for Gimenez at half-time and Atletico gradually turned the screw, Griezmann, Costa and Lemar all causing problems for the weary Brugge defence.

Another smooth combination created the goal as Griezmann played in Costa, who could have shot but instead turned back and returned to Griezmann. He made no mistake. It was Costa’s last contribution.

Denswil could have snatched Brugge a point but headed over from six yards. Instead, Atleti confirmed their victory as Griezmann stormed down the left and teed up Koke to slot home from close range.

AFP

Griezmann On Target As Atletico Cruise To Victory Over Huesca

Atletico Madrid’s French forward Antoine Griezmann (L) vies for the ball with SD Huesca’s Portuguese defender Ruben Semedo during the Spanish league football match Club Atletico de Madrid against SD Huesca at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on September 25, 2018.
GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Atletico Madrid are finally finding their groove in La Liga and just in time for a city derby against Real Madrid after they strolled to a 3-0 win over newly-promoted Huesca on Tuesday. 

One victory from their opening four league games left Atletico seven points adrift of Barcelona a fortnight ago but three on the spin have now steered Diego Simeone’s side back on track.

This was a routine three points as they come at the Wanda Metropolitano, where Antoine Griezmann scored early in the first half before going off early in the second, along with partner Diego Costa.

Thomas Partey and Koke added numbers two and three before the interval as Atleti climb to third. Huesca drop to 18th.

“The team is getting better with every game,” Simeone said. “Against Monaco was good, Getafe better, and today a strong first half allowed us to conserve energy.”

Griezmann and Costa jogging off with half an hour to spare were the dream scenario for Simeone, particularly given Real Madrid already have one day less rest ahead of Saturday’s grudge match at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real’s assignment against Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Wednesday is likely to be far more demanding too.

Huesca’s fate in their debut campaign in the top flight will be decided against worse teams than Atleti, and probably at home, where their Estadio El Alcoraz holds just over 7,000.

When Atletico won La Liga four years ago, Huesca finished seventh in Group Two of Segunda B, the third tier in Spain, beneath Fuenlabrada and Athletic Bilbao’s B team.

Even when storming to the title, Simeone’s side have hardly been famed for their style of play but their opener here was a triumph for team fluidity.

A sweeping spell of possession ended with Angel Correa slipping Costa through in the penalty area. He pulled back for Griezmann to finish.

If that was a goal for precision, the next was about power. Partey collected the ball 30 yards out and without a challenge, shuffled forward, before unleashing low into the bottom corner.

Two minutes later, it was three. Koke’s clipped ball over the top evaded both Correa’s foot and the distracted goalkeeper Axel Werner on its way into the net. Initially ruled out for offside, the Video Assistant Referee showed Correa was level and the goal stood.

Griezmann went off in the 54th minute and Costa in the 65th. Huesca might have had a consolation but Ezequiel Avila diverted over and Juan Aguilera’s finish struck the body of Jan Oblak. Atleti can start looking ahead to Real.

AFP

Griezmann And Costa Lead Atletico Madrid Past Monaco

Atletico Madrid’s Spanish forward Diego Costa (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League first round football match between AS Monaco and Atletico Madrid at the Stade Louis II, in Monaco, on September 18, 2018. CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP

 

Atletico Madrid came from behind to beat Monaco 2-1 in their Champions League Group A opener on Tuesday with star strikers Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann detonating the fightback.

The visitors had fallen behind against the run of play in the 18th minute when winger Samuel Grandsir forced the ball home in a goalmouth scramble after good work from Radamel Falcao.

But Costa then ran onto a wonderful flick-on from Griezmann to fire a snap-shot low and hard past Monaco’s onrushing Swiss stopper Diego Benaglio to level the scores on the half-hour.

Jose Maria Giminez — remembered for crying on the pitch when France beat Uruguay 2-0 in the World Cup quarter-finals in Russia — then headed home a corner in first-half stoppage-time to take the wind out of Monaco’s sails at a key moment.

The pitch cut up worryingly and groundsmen scrambled at half-time to pound in sods of detached turf.

Former Monaco striker Thierry Henry and ex-coach Didier Deschamps were in the stands where just 12,000 fans showed up and amongst them a mere 80 Atletico supporters.

Atletico have had a stuttering start to their La Liga campaign, and with coach Diego Simeone on the final match of a four-game touchline ban, the visitors were marshalled by the menacing bulk of his brooding assistant German Burgos prowling the line.

Monaco’s Polish defender Kamil Glik appeared to be relishing his role, keeping tabs on Costa and apart from the goal did a solid job on the Atletico target man.

Falcao never stopped searching for an equaliser against his old club, almost earning a penalty in the 66th minute and lashing a shot just wide moments later.

Glik saw a last-gasp header go just wide with the fans on their feet, but Atletico were otherwise untroubled in the latter stages.

France international forward Thomas Lemar was back at the Stade Louis II after his close-season switch to Madrid and came on late as Atletico sweated out the final minutes to clinch three precious away points.

AFP

‘I Have To Be In Top 3’, Griezmann Makes Case For Ballon D’Or

France’s forward Antoine Griezmann looks on as he takes part in a training session in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, on the outskirts of Paris, on September 3, 2018, as part of the team’s preparation for the UEFA Nations League football match against Germany and Netherlands. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

 

France star Antoine Griezmann insists he deserves to be on the podium for this year’s Ballon d’Or after winning the World Cup and major silverware with Atletico Madrid.

Griezmann came third in 2016 in the voting behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the most prestigious individual award in football, despite not winning anything.

That year was agonizing for the forward as he lost the Euro 2016 final with France and the Champions League final with Atletico.

But this season fortune has smiled on Griezmann, who starred in France’s triumphant World Cup-winning campaign in Russia after an impressive year at Atletico, who won the Europa League and UEFA Super Cup.

“Comparing 2016 and this year, for me I have to be in the top three,” the 27-year-old told French sports daily L’Equipe.

“In 2016, I lost two finals and was in the top three. This time I have won three finals.”

Asked if not winning it would be unfair, Griezmann replied: “Not unfair, but I would wonder what more I could do. I have won three trophies, stood out at decisive moments, but it is not me who votes.”

Ronaldo and Messi have dominated the Ballon d’Or over the last decade and the Portuguese superstar will be a contender again this year after winning the Champions League with Real Madrid.

But Griezmann, who rejected a move to join Messi at Barcelona in the close season, admits ending their stranglehold over the award would be special.

“I think about it, especially the closer I get to it. The Ballon d’Or is a prestigious award, and it is the highest you can go as a player. There are trophies in your league, in the World Cup, the Euro, but it’s not the same,” he said.

However, there are signs that Griezmann’s glorious 2018 on the field might not be enough.

UEFA gave their award for the best player of last season to Luka Modric, skipper of the Croatia side that reached the World Cup final and a Champions League winner with Real.

And Griezmann was omitted, along with the rest of his France team-mates, from the final three nominees for FIFA’s player of the year award.

The finalists for that prize are Modric, Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah, the same three who made up the podium for UEFA’s award.

Asked about the FIFA snub, Griezmann replied that “it’s bizarre, and a shame. It is a trophy given out by FIFA, isn’t it?

“And the World Cup is organized by FIFA, right? We win the World Cup, and there is no French player there. That is their choice but it is surprising that there is no world champion.”

The Ballon d’Or award was run jointly by FIFA and magazine France Football until the end of 2016, since when world football’s governing body has reverted to giving out their own prize.

While a panel of supporters, national team captains, coaches, and journalists vote for the FIFA award, only journalists vote for the Ballon d’Or.

AFP

Barca To Pay Griezmann’s €100m Release Clause – Report

 

Atletico Madrid’s French forward Antoine Griezmann (R) celebrates after scoring against Leganes… on February 28, 2018. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

 

Barcelona have informed Atletico Madrid they are preparing to pay Antoine Griezmann’s 100 million-euro release clause, Spanish radio reported on Tuesday, as speculation over the French striker’s future intensified.

“Barcelona have told Atletico Madrid they are going to pay Antonie Griezmann’s get out clause. And Atletico know the player will be leaving at the end of the season,” Cadena Cope radio station announced without attributing a source.

The uncertainty over Griezmann’s future could not have come at a worse time for Atletico as they prepare for next week’s Europa League final against Marseille.

Earlier Tuesday, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo refused to clarify Griezmann’s future after domestic media suggested Cerezo had met the player for dinner in a bid to persuade the Frenchman to stay at Atletico, with the promise of a bumper new contract.

Cerezo has denied meeting Griezmann for talks but the Atletico president was also not definitive on the 27-year-old’s future.

“I can tell you one thing: Antoine Griezmann is an Atletico Madrid player as of today,” Cerezo said.

“I cannot tell you anything else because I do not know anything else.”

Barca were forced in January to deny publicly they had agreed a deal to sign Griezmann, who has indicated he wants his future resolved before the start of the World Cup.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde on Tuesday described Griezmann as “great player”.

“But we have to be very cautious about saying anything about a player that is not ours and making sure we respect our rivals,” he added.

Barcelona host Villarreal on Wednesday and with the La Liga title already wrapped up, the Catalans now stand three games away from finishing the league season unbeaten.

They would be the first ever invincible side in a 38-game La Liga campaign but some have suggested key players could now be rested for the World Cup, in particular, Lionel Messi.

Messi and Barca were stretched to the full in the Clasico against Real Madrid on Sunday, securing a 2-2 draw, despite playing the entire second half with 10 men.

“If I rotate it will be to try to win the game and have fresh people playing,” Valverde said.

“The other day, with 10 men, we made a great physical effort. But no federation has called me to tell me not to play a player and I have not asked for anything. We have our own objectives.”

AFP

Barcelona Deny Reports Of Griezmann Agreement

Barcelona Deny Reports Of Griezmann Agreement
Atletico Madrid’s French forward Antoine Griezmann. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Barcelona have “strongly” denied claims made by Spanish daily Sport on Saturday that they have reached an agreement to sign Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid at the end of the season.

“The Atletico Madrid forward has agreed to join Barcelona and will be under (coach) Ernesto Valverde’s orders next season,” Sport said, adding that Griezmann’s current buy-out clause of 200 million euros ($240 million) drops by half on July 1.

However, Barcelona later took the unusual step of releasing a statement to deny the reports from the Catalan newspaper.

“FC Barcelona strongly denies the information that has appeared over the course of the last few hours in different media regarding Atletico Madrid player, Antoine Griezmann, and an alleged deal with our club,” said the statement on the Catalan club’s website.

Such a reaction can be explained by the fact that Atletico have complained to FIFA about “repeated contacts” between Barca and the France striker.

“FC Barcelona expresses its objections in the face of these events and reiterates its full respect for the institution of Atletico Madrid,” added the statement.

Barcelona have been scrambling to add high-quality players to their squad since Paris Saint-Germain lured Brazilian star Neymar to France in a world-record signing last August.

Philippe Coutinho joined from Liverpool this month in a 180 million-euro ($220 million) deal.

Not wanting to add fuel to the fire, Valverde played down the transfer talk at his press conference ahead of Sunday’s trip to Betis in La Liga.

“Griezmann is a great player who plays for another club whom we respect,” he said.

“When the transfer window is open, we are in a world where there is speculation on a daily basis and we have to live with that.

“But if you’re asking me if Griezmann is a good player, well obviously he is a good player. But I repeat what I always say: I prefer to talk about my own players.”

Sport says it believes Griezmann’s transfer will take place after the World Cup in Russia, where he will have a key role for France, who are among the favourites.

Another Catalan daily, Mundo Deportivo, reported in December that the player’s family had lunch with the Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu to smooth the way for the transfer.

Brazilian born Spain striker Diego Costa joined Atletico from Chelsea in September, and has proved to be the club’s top performer since his debut two weeks ago.

Barcelona, whose stars Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta are all in their thirties, signed Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund for 105 million euros last summer, but the 20-year-old French rising star’s campaign has been marred by injury.

AFP

Atletico Report Barca For Illegal Griezmann Approach

Atletico Madrid’s French forward Antoine Griezmann. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFPGriezmann

Atletico Madrid reported Barcelona to football’s governing body FIFA over illegal contact made to star forward Antoine Griezmann, Atletico club sources confirmed on Tuesday.

“The complaint has been presented for repeated contact between Barcelona, the player and his team,” an Atletico source told AFP.

Griezmann renewed his contract until 2022 in June and Atletico consider contact made by Barcelona not only breaks FIFA’s rules, but could also affect the integrity of La Liga.

Barcelona lead the league with Atletico their closest challengers six points behind in second.

“He is a player under a long contract and this can’t happen. Moreover, the club considers that it could affect the competition where Barca are currently top and Atletico second,” added the Atletico source.

Barca were slapped with a one-year transfer ban for the illegal recruitment of foreign minors by FIFA that was served in 2015.

Should the Catalan giants be found guilty, they could be handed another ban on registering new players.

Barcelona-based sports daily Mundo Deportivo reported on Sunday that Barca’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu had recently met with Griezmann’s family.

The Catalan giants are expected to be willing to pay the French international’s 100 million euro ($117.8 million) buyout clause at the end of the season to avoid negotiating with Atletico.

Barca’s director of institutional relations Guillermo Amor turned down the opportunity to deny a meeting had taken place later on Sunday after Barca’s 4-0 thrashing of Deportivo la Coruna.

“If the paper says it then it is possible it is like that,” Amor told Movistar TV. “There could have been a coming together.”

Griezmann, 26, agreed to sign a new contract with Atletico in June after the club had an appeal against a transfer ban rejected.

Top scorer at Euro 2016, Griezmann said it would have been “dirty” to walk out on the club when they couldn’t replace him until January.

However, Atletico coach Diego Simeone accepted last week that Griezmann’s departure at some point in the future is inevitable.

“Of course Griezmann will be able to leave at some point, as Diego Costa, Diego Ribas and Arda Turan have gone,” Simeone told French sports daily L’Equipe.

“If a player comes to me and says, ‘coach, I have a chance of a lifetime and want to leave’, and if he’s left everything on the pitch for me like Griezmann, I’ll say, ‘no problem’.”

READ ALSO: Barca Reach Agreement With Griezmann – Reports 

Griezmann has scored 90 goals in 179 games for Atletico since joining from Real Sociedad in 2014 and led Los Rojiblancos to the 2016 Champions League final, scoring twice to eliminated Barca in the quarter-finals.

However, he was also caught up in a Twitter storm on Sunday after posting a picture of himself blacked up and mimicking a Harlem Globetrotter basketball player from the 1980s.

“I recognise that it was clumsy of me. If I have offended people, I apologise,” he wrote shortly after and deleted the photo after receiving a wave of criticism.

AFP

Barca Reach Agreement With Griezmann – Reports

Atletico Madrid’s French forward Antoine Griezmann. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has met with the family of Atletico Madrid’s star forward Antoine Griezmann ahead of a possible summer move, sports daily Mundo Deportivo reported on Sunday.

The French international, who has been Atletico’s top scorer for the past three seasons, has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United in the past.

However, Barca appears willing to meet his 100 million euro ($118 million) buyout clause as they seek to again unite Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez with a prolific attacker following the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain in August for a world record 222 million euros.

“Barca settled on Griezmann as an objective for 2018 and they spoke with his entourage to see if he was willing to wear the blue and red shirt,” reported Barcelona-based Mundo Deportivo.

“After receiving a ‘yes’ in response, an agreement was reached with the French goalscorer involving Pep Segura, Barca’s general manager, and Robert Fernandez, the director of football.

“President Josep Maria Bartomeu has now entered to finalise the operation.” the newspaper reported adding that “Bartomeu met recently with Griezmann’s family to eat in Barcelona.”

Griezmann, 26, agreed to sign a new contract with Atletico in June after the club had an appeal against a transfer ban rejected.

The top scorer at Euro 2016, Griezmann said it would have been “dirty” to walk out on the club when they couldn’t replace him until January.

However, Atletico coach Diego Simeone accepted this week that Griezmann’s departure is inevitable. Many of Atletico’s other outstanding players, including strikers Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero, Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa, have also left in recent years for pastures new.

“Of course Griezmann will be able to leave at some point, as Diego Costa, Diego Ribas and Arda Turan have gone,” Simeone told French sports daily L’Equipe.

“If a player comes to me and says, ‘coach, I have a chance of a lifetime and want to leave’, and if he’s left everything on the pitch for me like Griezmann, I’ll say, ‘no problem’.”

Atletico are also likely to come under financial pressure to sell after moving into a new 310-million euro stadium in September and falling to make it into the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time in five years.

The club have also already committed to nearly 100 million euros in transfers for January with Costa returning from Chelsea and Spanish international Vitolo joining from Sevilla.

AFP

Deschamps Backs Griezmann To Regain Form

Deschamps Backs Griezmann To Regain Form
France’s Olivier Giroud (L) and Antoine Griezmann (R) take part in a training session at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on November 9, 2017 on the eve of the friendly football match against Wales. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

France head coach Didier Deschamps backed forward Antoine Griezmann to rediscover his best form after a difficult start to the season, ahead of a friendly against Wales at the Stade de France on Friday.

Griezmann has scored only three times in 13 appearances for Atletico Madrid this term and is without a goal for his club since netting a penalty against Chelsea in the Champions League on September 27.

The 26-year-old’s form is crucial for France’s hopes of winning the World Cup in Russia next year, but Deschamps is not worried about Griezmann’s six-game goal drought.

“Why would he not get better? Today, he’s not as good, but he has lots of experience,” Deschamps told a press conference on Thursday.

“I know what he’s capable of doing, and he’s part of the team. You are free to question the status and the value of Antoine Griezmann, but it’s not my case.”

Deschamps has been criticised for not knowing his best team after using 21 different players across France’s last four World Cup qualifiers, but he insisted that his side were not a work in progress.

The 49-year-old, who led France to the Euro 2016 final on home turf, will have to make do without a long list of injured players for the Wales game and Tuesday’s clash with Germany, with the likes of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante and winger Ousmane Dembele all sidelined.

“We are not a work in progress,” the 1998 World Cup-winning captain said.

“There is room for improvement. It’s not an excuse and I will never use it, but eight players are absent… That there is rotation seems normal to me.

“Now and in March, as I did before the last World Cup and the Euros, I will make sure to have second and third options. It’s to have as much information as possible before the final squad is named in May.”

– Coleman hints at Wales future –

This will be Wales’ first match since seeing their hopes of reaching a first World Cup since 1958 come to an end with a 1-0 home loss to the Republic of Ireland in their final qualifier last month.

Speculation about the future of manager Chris Coleman has mounted since that loss, but he hinted that he could stay on as coach after the friendlies against France and Panama on Tuesday.

“I don’t look at these two games as the end of anything, we will talk about my future after, it’s not the time now,” he said.

“I have to prepare for this meeting, to make sure that we’ll be competitive.”

Wales captain Ashley Williams also called for former Fulham coach Coleman to stay, ahead of the team’s first match in France since their shock run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

“It’s clear the way the players and fans feel about him,” the Everton defender said.

“We enjoy working with him and if it was up to us we would have him stay as long as possible.

“We always enjoy the camps, we give our all for him and I think that shows in the games.”

AFP

Atletico Beat Sevilla 2-0 In League Clash

Atletico Madrid’s forward from France Antoine Griezmann (R) vies with Sevilla’s defender from Argentina Gabriel Mercado (bottom) during the Spanish league football match Club Atletico de Madrid vs Sevilla FC at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on September 23, 2017. CURTO DE LA TORRE / AFP

Diego Costa watched on from the directors’ box as Atletico Madrid leapfrogged Sevilla into second in La Liga thanks to goals from Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann in a 2-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.

Costa’s drawn out move back to Atletico from Chelsea was finally agreed on Thursday, but the striker isn’t allowed to feature until the January transfer window opens.

However, the man who fired Atletico to La Liga in 2013/14, could still have a vital part to play in Atletico’s title challenge as they maintained an impressive start to the season despite the difficulties of a ban on registering new players and with their first three league games of the season away from home as a new 68,000 capacity home was completed.

Sevilla travelled to the Spanish capital unbeaten so far this season and came close early on when Pablo Sarabia’s shot was deflected onto his own post by Stefan Savic.

At the other end Filipe Luis then smashed the underside of the bar from Yannick Carrasco’s cutback in Atletico’s best effort of a first-half short on clear-cut chances.

However, it took less than a minute of the second-half to break the deadlock when Carrasco showed great awareness and pace to latch onto a short back pass from Steven N’Zonzi to beat Sergio Rico to the ball, round the keeper and slot into an empty net.

Griezmann then made the game safe 20 minutes from time as the French international won a tackle inside the Sevilla box before lifting himself off the floor to receive Luis’s pass and drill through Rico’s legs.

Diego Simeone then quickly withdrew Griezmann and Carrasco to keep them fresh for Wednesday’s visit of Chelsea in the Champions League.

But Atletico comfortably saw out the final stages to move to within a point of La Liga leaders Barcelona, who travel to Girona later on Saturday.

Real Madrid are also in action later at Alaves as they aim to close a seven-point gap on Barca following a shock 1-0 home defeat to Real Betis in midweek.

AFP