Griezmann to Atletico Madrid: How did 2020-21 stack up against his best season?

By Sports Desk July 15, 2021

Reports in Spain suggest Atletico Madrid and Antoine Griezmann could be set for a reunion, just two years after Barcelona broke their transfer record to sign the France star.

Griezmann spent five seasons at Atleti, joining Diego Simeone's team from Real Sociedad.

He went on to score 94 LaLiga goals for the club, before a long-mooted switch to Barca went through in 2019.

Yet Griezmann, who turned 30 in March, has never quite managed to scale the same heights at the Camp Nou as he did in Madrid.

A disappointing first campaign marred by injuries and inconsistency left Griezmann playing catch up last term, though he did net 20 times across all competitions to finish as Barca's second-highest goalscorer, behind the imperious Lionel Messi.

With the uncertainty over Messi's future seemingly set to be resolved by a new five-year deal, reportedly worth half of the 34-year-old's previous contract, Barca have to clear their wage bill if they are to comply with LaLiga's salary cap.

The Blaugrana have added Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal in the close-season, though are unable to register those new signings until players are moved out.

Griezmann, who is one of the club's highest earners, looks set to be one of the names to make way in a swap deal involving Saul Niguez – though Renan Lodi and Mario Hermoso have also been touted as potential options for Barca. Ahead of his potential return, Stats Perform assesses how Griezmann's efforts last season match up to his best campaign from his first Atleti stint.

 

GRIEZMANN AT HIS PEAK

Griezmann was the perfect example of consistency throughout his time at Atleti, as he became the perfect, versatile forward for Simeone's disciplined side.

He partnered Mario Mandzukic, Fernando Torres and Diego Costa among others during his time at the club, transforming himself from a nippy winger to a central striker with predatory instincts in the area, as well as harbouring plenty of creative talents.

Though he played more games (54) and scored more goals (32) during the 2015-16 season, Griezmann's finest campaign at Atleti arguably came in 2017-18.

His tally of 19 LaLiga strikes was 11 more than any other Atleti player, as he finished sixth in the scoring charts overall.

Griezmann added another 10 goals across the cup competitions, however, including a brace in the Europa League final, which Atleti won 3-0 against Marseille in Lyon.

Only Griezmann got into double figures for Atleti in terms of assists (13), while only Koke (81) created more chances than his 65.

Griezmann was clinical when opportunities came his way, too, converting 52.38 per cent of the 42 "big chances" that were crafted for him, and he ranked top for attempts (124) as he averaged a goal every 133 minutes.

To cap off an exceptional domestic campaign, Greizmann put in a man of the match display as France beat Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 World Cup final.

 

PAST HIS BEST?

After making much of his call to stay put at Atleti – Griezmann having taken part in a mini-documentary to confirm his decision before the World Cup – the 28-year-old completed a €120million switch to Barca a year later.

It came with controversy; Atleti insisting Barca had fallen some €80m short of the obligated fee, but the transfer was nevertheless upheld.

His first season at Camp Nou was one to forget. The coronavirus pandemic merely prolonging a dismal campaign by Griezmann's lofty standards – the nadir for all involved at Barca coming in the humbling 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.

Yet Griezmann came into his second season with a renewed sense of purpose and finally seemed to click under new boss Ronald Koeman.

While still having to fit in around key man Messi, Griezmann played 51 times in all competitions, making 45 starts, clocking up 3,904 minutes in total (the second most he has managed in a campaign since his move to Atleti).

A total of 20 goals sees him fall some way short of the 29 he managed in 2017-18, though his 12 assists come close to matching his Atleti peak.

 

His expected assists (xA) total of 8.99 does, however, suggest the quality of opportunities he created was perhaps not wholly responsible for his 12 goal provisions. Given he was linking up with Messi, that is perhaps no surprise. This was, though, also the case in 2017-18, with Griezmann tallying an expected assists figure of 6.3, suggesting his Atleti team-mates were finishing chances they may not have been expected to.

Griezmann created more chances (67) last term than in his 2017-18 season, though his conversion rate of gilt-edged opportunities dropped to 39.39 per cent from 33 such openings.

Only in 2018-19 (15.11) did Griezmann have a lower shot conversion rate than last term (18.02) while there was no international glory for him this time around either – he scored once as France dropped out of Euro 2020 in the last 16.

Related items

  • Almeria 1-2 Real Madrid: Alaba's stunning first touch seals opening day win for champions Almeria 1-2 Real Madrid: Alaba's stunning first touch seals opening day win for champions

    Substitute David Alaba scored a stunning free-kick with his first touch as Real Madrid started their LaLiga title defence with a 2-1 turnaround win over Almeria on Sunday.

    Carlo Ancelotti's side started poorly at the Power Horse Stadium in Andalusia, and fell behind inside the opening 10 minutes courtesy of a clinical finish from former Manchester United youth player Largie Ramazani.

    Madrid struggled to find a way past an inspired Fernando Martinez in the Almeria goal, before Lucas Vazquez, who had an effort ruled out in the first half for offside, eventually pulled Madrid level shortly after the hour mark.

    Alaba replaced Ferland Mendy in the 74th minute and with his first touch curled a sumptuous free-kick past Fernando from 25 yards to seal all three points.

    Madrid's defence was caught out in just the sixth minute when Ramazani latched onto Inigo Eguaras' superb ball over the top and fired past Thibaut Courtois from just inside the penalty area.

    At five minutes and 50 seconds, that was the quickest goal Madrid have conceded on the opening day of a league season since Sergio Aguero scored against them for Atletico Madrid in August 2007.

    Los Blancos had a whopping 17 shots before the interval, yet a combination of smart goalkeeping from Fernando and uncharacteristically wasteful finishing from Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior prevented them from finding a leveller.

    Fernando continued to frustrate Madrid after the break, denying Benzema with a fine save, but he was eventually beaten in the 61st minute when Vazquez slammed home after the Almeria goalkeeper had kept out Vinicius' effort. 

    Alaba then ensured Madrid went back to the capital with maximum points, whipping past a helpless Fernando immediately after entering the action.

    What does it mean? Madrid bounce back to deny plucky hosts

    Almeria had won just one of their 12 games against Madrid in LaLiga prior to Sunday's clash, but they looked like they might earn a famous victory thanks to Ramazani's early strike and some inspired goalkeeping from Fernando.

    Vasquez and Alaba had other ideas, though, as Los Blancos stretched their unbeaten run on the opening day of LaLiga to 14 games.

    Alaba's instant impact

    Alaba did not need to settle into the action before dispatching a glorious free-kick past Fernando with his first touch. That goal meant he is one of only two players, alongside Real Betis' Nabil Fekir, to have scored two goals from free-kicks in LaLiga since the start of last season.

    Fantastic Fernando

    Fernando can consider himself exceptionally unlucky to have finished on the losing side. The 32-year-old made an incredible 13 saves to frustrate the visitors, but there was little he could do about Madrid's two decisive strikes.

    What's next?

    Madrid are away at Celta Vigo on Saturday, while Almeria visit Elche two days later. 

  • 'You can only sit back and watch' - Bayern's Davies dazzled by Mane 'You can only sit back and watch' - Bayern's Davies dazzled by Mane

    Sadio Mane is a "top player" who "you can only sit back and watch", says Bayern Munich team-mate Alphonso Davies after Sunday's 2-0 win over Wolfsburg.

    The Senegal international, who arrived from Liverpool ahead of the start of the 2022-23 season, has made an instant impact at his new home, setting the Bundesliga alight with his performances.

    A superb league debut in a 6-1 rout of Eintracht Frankfurt last week saw him get himself on the scoresheet, and only a VAR intervention stopped him from finding it again this weekend.

    But even without another goal to his name, Mane - who fired the Reds to a domestic cup double last term and his country to Africa Cup of Nations glory, plus World Cup qualification - has left his team-mates impressed.

    "Sadio Mane, you see this guy, he's a top player," Davies told the Bundesliga's official website. "He's hard-working, he's fast, we try to get the ball to him as much as possible because he's a very quick guy.

    "He's a good player. We're happy to have him here. He feels good in the team and as you can see, the performances he's [shown] lately, you can only just sit back and watch."

    Dayot Upamecano also offered high praise for the forward, adding: "We know he's a very big player, he's helping us a lot. We're all very happy he's here.

    "He gave me tips about a lot of things. He's one of the best players in the world and everyone of us is happy that he's here."

    With two wins from two to start the new season, Bayern are flying in defence of their Bundesliga crown, one they earned last year despite a string of so-so performances and a frustrating Champions League campaign.

    But Davies feels they have turned a page this term for Julian Nagelsmann's sophomore season, adding: "This year, we have a mindset that we want to keep.

    "Last year wasn't too ideal for us in [the] competitions but this year, we have some new faces [and] fresh legs. It's the beginning of the season, you want to keep this momentum going. We're just enjoying playing football."

  • Forest add Freuler from Atalanta in latest transfer Forest add Freuler from Atalanta in latest transfer

    Nottingham Forest have continued their busy transfer window by bolstering their midfield with the capture of Remo Freuler from Atalanta.

    The Switzerland international arguably represents one of the biggest coups managed by Steve Cooper's side to date, making his switch to the Premier League from a regular contender for Champions League qualification.

    Freuler follows hot on the heels of Emmanuel Dennis and Cheikhou Kouyate, both of whom were confirmed as Forest players ahead of their first home game back in the top flight against West Ham on Sunday.

    A Taiwo Awoniyi goal was enough to hand the hosts a 1-0 win at the City Ground in that match, downing David Moyes' Hammers and getting Cooper's men off the mark for the season.

    Freuler, a member of his nation's squads for both the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020, netted when Switzerland beat Bulgaria last November to beat Italy to a place at this year's tournament in Qatar.

    He leaves Atalanta having made over 250 appearances for the club across all competitions, including featuring regularly in three successive Champions League campaigns between 2019-20 and last term.

    Reports have suggested Forest have agreed part with a fee of around £7.5million (€8.9m) for the 30-year-old.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.