Griezmann returns but Simeone focusing on squad given his embarrassment of riches

By Sports Desk September 11, 2021

Antoine Griezmann will return for Atletico Madrid against Espanyol but head coach Diego Simeone insisted his focus is on the team dynamic and ensuring his talented attacking options click, rather than individuals.

The France forward made a remarkable move back from Barcelona, initially joining the reigning LaLiga champions on loan with either club holding the option to extend for a further year.

Griezmann scored 133 goals across 257 games in his first spell before that ultimately ill-fated €120million move to the Catalan giants in 2019, and Simeone revealed his new loanee is relishing a homecoming.

"I found [Antoine] Griezmann eager to return to Atletico Madrid, very enthusiastic about the situation of returning to the team," Simeone told reporters on Saturday.

However, the 51-year-old head coach wanted to avoid focusing on individuals as Atletico look to end a three-game winless away run at Espanyol in LaLiga.

 

Luis Suarez, who has been involved in 15 goals in 11 top-flight appearances against Sunday's opponents, could link up with his former Barca colleague Griezmann again, though the France star will face a fight for a place in the side given Atletico now boast a wealth of attacking talent among their ranks.

Angel Correa has thrived as a support striker, scoring three times in the first two LaLiga games, as Atletico opened with back-to-back wins for the fourth time in the Simeone era.

Versatile attacker Matheus Cunha then arrived from Hertha Berlin for a reported €26m fee late in the transfer window.

The Brazil forward created 54 chances – ranking him sixth among forwards in Germany – last season, while only five forwards across the top five European leagues completed more dribbles than Cunha's 123 since his arrival in Berlin back in January 2020.

Yannick Carrasco was the only Atletico player to complete 100 dribbles in that time and the Belgian winger – often used as a wing-back last term – led club charts for chances created (47) in LaLiga in 2020-21.

Add the likes of Joao Felix, Thomas Lemar, Marcos Llorente and Rodrigo De Paul to the equation and Simeone has a wealth of creative talents to call on. Now he can look to Griezmann as well.

Although his Barcelona spell may not have lived up to expectations, he still netted 20 times across 51 appearances in all competitions last season, providing 12 assists and creating 67 chances for Ronald Koeman's side. That was two more than he managed in 2017-18, arguably the finest individual campaign of Griezmann's career.

But Simeone is not kidding himself. While he has great talent at his disposal, he needs them to click.

"Internal competition has grown and that leads us to compete better," Simeone continued.

"At first it is easy to speak from the names. I believe in men and in how a team is executed. We are absolutely always looking for a team.

"Names don't team up, men do. We will go in that search of that commitment we have towards the club, always looking for the best."

Related items

  • Celtic appeal against Yang Hyun-jun red and express ‘serious concerns’ to SFA Celtic appeal against Yang Hyun-jun red and express ‘serious concerns’ to SFA

    Celtic have appealed against Yang Hyun-jun’s red card and written to the Scottish Football Association with “serious concerns” over the standard of officiating during their 2-0 defeat by Hearts.

    Yang was sent off in the 16th minute following a VAR review after initially being booked for catching Alex Cochrane with a high boot.

    Both sides had penalties awarded during the cinch Premiership encounter at Tynecastle on Sunday.

    Celtic confirmed they would be appealing against the red card and added in a club statement: “We have also written to the SFA to raise our serious concerns regarding the use of VAR and the decisions made within the match.”

  • Marc Canham confirms Republic of Ireland will announce permanent coach in April Marc Canham confirms Republic of Ireland will announce permanent coach in April

    The Republic of Ireland will announce a new permanent head coach at the start of next month.

    FAI director of football Marc Canham appeared to rule out interim boss John O’Shea from the role by revealing the preferred candidate is still in work.

    “The process of the appointment of the permanent new head coach is very close to the end, nearing its end point, and we look forward to announcing that new permanent head coach in early April,” Canham said at a press conference alongside O’Shea.

    “Existing contractual obligations mean that we are not in a position to announce any further details at this point but as we have committed to, we will announce that in early April.

    “The process has been ongoing for a period of time, we have given a series of updates, but we are near the end. We are at a really advanced stage but for different practical reasons we can’t confirm that until early April.”

    Former Manchester United and Ireland defender O’Shea was appointed interim boss last week for the home friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland later this month.

    “Look, my focus is on these two games,” said the 42-year-old. “When I got the message from Mark just over a week ago it was an amazing feeling, I’m very proud.

    “It’s an amazing feeling and I can’t wait for it to come round.

    “(The future) takes care of itself, I’m focused on these two games and we’ll see what happens then.”

    O’Shea will be assisted by Paddy McCarthy and Glenn Whelan, as well as former national team boss Brian Kerr as technical director.

  • Paul Tierney will not referee game at weekend after Forest-Liverpool controversy Paul Tierney will not referee game at weekend after Forest-Liverpool controversy

    Paul Tierney, who was at the centre of a dropped ball controversy in the Nottingham Forest v Liverpool match last Saturday, will not referee a Premier League match this weekend.

    Tierney faced criticism after he failed to award a dropped ball to Forest in an attacking area after stopping the match for a head injury to Liverpool defender Ibrahima Konate.

    Forest did regain possession after Tierney’s error, but conceded a 99th-minute goal which cost them a valuable point in the race for Premier League survival.

    Tierney has been selected as the video assistant referee (VAR) for the Arsenal v Brentford match on Saturday evening. Sources close to Professional Game Match Officials Ltd insist Tierney has not been dropped.

    He is one of a group of officials who regularly alternate between being referees and VARs.

    Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg, who has been employed by Forest on a consultancy basis as a referee analyst, told BBC Radio 5 Live at the weekend: “(Forest) should have had the ball back. If the referee stops the game, he has to give the ball back to the team in possession. That was Forest.

    “When (the ball was) given to the keeper, with Liverpool scoring afterwards, you can see why (Forest) are aggrieved,” Clattenburg added.

    “I haven’t spoken to the referee – I’ll leave that to the club. I went to go into the referee’s dressing room (after the game) but he (Tierney) wouldn’t allow it.”

    PGMOL is understood not to have received any further correspondence from Forest regarding the incident on Saturday beyond Clattenburg’s comments.

    Tierney sent off Forest’s first-team coach Steven Reid after he came onto the pitch at the end of the game to protest. Forest later dismissed reports that club owner Evangelos Marinakis had to be restrained by security staff in the tunnel.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.