UEFA Champions League: Atletico leaning on Griezmann in key Feyenoord visit

The French forward has nine goals in the Spanish top flight, only trailing the division’s top goalscorer, Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham, and has netted four in four Champions League matches thus far.

Published : Nov 27, 2023 10:41 IST , Barcelona - 3 MINS READ

Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann.
Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Atletico Madrid is depending on the red-hot Antoine Griezmann to book a place in the Champions League knockout rounds on Tuesday at Feyenoord.

After finishing bottom of its group last season, Atletico is desperate to progress and knows it faces a fierce battle at De Kuip in the Netherlands, with the host fighting to avoid elimination.

Atletico leads Group E with eight points, one ahead of Lazio and two up on third-placed Feyenoord, and a win would send it through.

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Griezmann, who scored a fine header against Mallorca to take Atletico third in La Liga on Saturday, is in superlative form.

The French forward has nine goals in the Spanish top flight, only trailing the division’s top goalscorer, Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham, and has netted four in four Champions League matches thus far.

He has eight goals and two assists in his last seven games for the club, across all competitions.

Griezmann played the full 90 minutes against Mallorca with coach Diego Simeone unable to rest the forward as his team had to fight until the end to take the three points.

“It’s difficult to think about taking him off,” said Simeone.

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“He’s so important to us, it’s a shame that he always, or almost always, plays 90 minutes.”

The Argentine coach has made Griezmann a central figure in the Atletico team, sometimes literally, deploying the 32-year-old in midfield on occasion.

Griezmann scored twice against Celtic while playing there in Atletico’s 6-0 win earlier in November at the Metropolitano.

It allows Griezmann to put his imprint on the game more, without losing sight of his goalscoring duties.

‘Living history

His goal against Mallorca was his 170th for the club, trailing all-time top Atletico goalscorer Luis Aragones by only three.

“(Griezmann) will be living history at Atletico Madrid, he will surpass Luis Aragones,” said midfielder Koke.

“We’re so happy when he’s on the pitch -- I hope he’s as fresh as possible (for Feyenoord), but he looks good to us.”

Feyenoord has a strong record at home, with seven consecutive victories across all competitions, while Atletico has won just two in its last six away from home.

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Griezmann’s defensive work-rate will be key if Atletico is to shackle the host and impose itself in the iconic stadium.

“(Griezmann) always has something different that can appear,” continued Simeone. “He manages himself very well, he brings into the match what he needs to from his game.”

The forward has also developed a knack for being the player to open the scoring, as he did against Mallorca.

Griezmann has done so on nine occasions this year and will hope to make it 10 against Feyenoord.

Beyond this week, the player has said he wants to follow Simeone in committing his future to the club.

“I’m very happy for him -- now it’s my turn,” said Griezmann earlier in November, after the coach signed on until 2027.

The forward signed on until 2026 after returning from his disappointing stint at Barcelona, and after winning over supporters again, has returned to his position as Atletico’s key figure.

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