Didier Deschamps piled praise on Olivier Giroud after the veteran striker's international career ended in disappointment with defeat in the Euro 2024 semi-final.

France took the lead against Spain through Randal Kolo Muani on Tuesday, but a stunning strike from Lamine Yamal – who became the youngest goalscorer in World Cup or Euros history – got Spain back on level terms.

Dani Olmo then netted in a quickfire turnaround and Spain held on for victory in the second half to book a place in the final against either England or the Netherlands.

France struggled to live up to their tag as joint pre-tournament favourites with England, but still ground their way through to the last four, only to come unstuck in Munich.

Kylian Mbappe admitted after the match that both he and France failed at the Euros. Les Bleus lost a major tournament semi-final for the first time since Euro 1996, with the new Real Madrid forward wasting one good opportunity late on.

Mbappe ended the tournament with no non-penalty goals from 23 such shots. Since records began in 1980, only Deco in 2004 (24) has ever had more non-penalty shots without netting at a single edition of the European Championships.


And the goal from Kolo Muani, which was set up by Mbappe, meant France had finally scored their first non-penalty goal at Euro 2024 (excluding own goals), with their 87th shot from such situations.

The international career of France's top scorer Giroud came to an end in the match, as he made a late substitute appearance.

Giroud played 137 times and scored 57 goals – more than any other player for France – and won the World Cup in 2018.

But he spent most of his last tournament on the bench, tallying just 56 minutes of game time in four outings.

Giroud, 37, announced his retirement from international football prior to the Euros, having secured a move to Los Angeles FC from AC Milan.

"He had a lot of good moments, but also some more difficult ones," coach Deschamps said about Giroud's France career after the Spain loss.

"He is an example of longevity, seriousness and professionalism. Even though he had less playing time at this Euro, he was fully with the squad. 

"He is one of the leaders. I want to say well done and thank you."

Giroud also helped France to reach the final at Euro 2016 and World Cup 2022.

As well as Mbappe and Giroud, it was a tough tournament for Antoine Griezmann, who set a record against Spain when he came on as a second-half substitute to play his 36th match at the Euros and World Cup combined.

While there has been speculation over the 33-year-old’s international future, the Atletico Madrid forward vowed to get back to his best following criticism of his form. 

He made six appearances but did not register a goal or an assist and had lost his place in the France starting line-up by the time of their elimination.

"I started the tournament badly but I felt better and better, even if I ended up on the bench," said Griezmann. 

"I’ll be back. I tried to give everything, in different positions too, I had to adapt. This is the life of a footballer. Others didn't play a minute, so it's not me who is going to complain."

France midfielder Adrien Rabiot admits everyone connected with the team has been "surprised" by Antoine Griezmann's struggles at Euro 2024.

France will face Spain in a huge semi-final clash in Munich on Tuesday, as they bid to reach their fourth major tournament final under Didier Deschamps.

However, Les Bleus have been strongly criticised for their failings in front of goal at the tournament, netting just three times from chances worth 8.07 expected goals (xG).

Their three goals have been two own goals and a Kylian Mbappe penalty, and they are the only team in European Championship history to attempt 50 or more non-penalty shots at a single edition without scoring with any (86).

Griezmann, one of France's star performers in their run to the 2022 World Cup final and the joint-third highest scorer in Euros history with seven goals at the competition, is among the Bleus forwards to have struggled.

He has failed to score from 11 shots worth 1.94 xG, missing all three of the big chances – as defined by Opta – to fall his way, leaving Rabiot lost for an explanation.


"We are all surprised when we know Antoine's qualities and what he did at the World Cup, where he was undoubtedly one of the best players," Rabiot said on Monday.

"I don't know how to explain it, maybe he's not as well physically. We expect a lot more from Antoine because he is capable of doing much more. 

"We can win without Antoine, we have a high-level team, but obviously it would be easier if he was at the top of his game."

Mbappe has also struggled thus far, his one goal coming from 20 shots amounting to 2.74 xG, and he recently suggested Paul Pogba's absence from the France midfield had forced him to change his game.

Rabiot sees no reason why he or his fellow midfielders should feel insulted by those comments, saying: "Why would I feel targeted? 

"Paul has these characteristics, you have to adapt. As a midfielder, we also adapt to different strikers. It's a question of adaptation."


Antoine Griezmann hit back at media criticism after France progressed to the quarter-finals of Euro 2024 with a 1-0 victory over Belgium.

Jan Vertonghen's 85th-minute own goal was enough to send Les Bleus into the last eight after another flat performance.

It was the second time that an own goal had given them a win at the tournament, after their opening victory over Austria.

Kylian Mbappe is the only Frenchman to score at the tournament, netting for the first time at the European Championships from the penalty spot against Poland, meaning France's wait for an open-play goal continues.

However, Griezmann was not happy when it was suggested that the scoreline was too low, or that he had made a sacrifice by switching out to the right of the front three.

"Don't p*** us off about a small score or something, we're in the quarters," Griezmann told BeIN Sports. "Big game defensively for the team. Without a great defence, you can't go far. It was another new system for us, we have to get used to it.

"I learned [about my position on the right] this morning. I'm at the service of the coach and the team. The coach told me to play here, I play here.

"No matter where I play, I'm going to give my all. [Didier Deschamps] knows where I like to play, but I'm always going to give everything for the team. This coach has confidence in me and I try to give it back to him."

Meanwhile, Adrien Rabiot was left to lament a first-half yellow card, his second booking of the tournament, which will see him miss the quarter-finals.

Despite his frustration, he was proud of the team for grinding out the win.

"It's a real relief with this goal," Rabiot told RMC. "We played a good match, we were solid.

"We have this ability to not concede a goal, to be very good at recovery. We know that it will only take one to put it in the net. It was the perfect match because with this goal at the end of the match, we broke their legs.

"I'm disgusted to have taken this yellow. I find that the refereeing at the start of the match was a little limited. But I have confidence in the guys on the bench, I will be behind them."

Didier Deschamps bemoaned France's lack of a clinical edge as they played out a 0-0 draw with the Netherlands on Friday.

Les Bleus, without talisman Kylian Mbappe due to a broken nose he suffered against Austria in their opener, struggled in front of goal, managing only three shots on target out of their 15.

Xavi Simons thought he had broken the deadlock in the 69th minute, only to have it chalked off due to Denzel Dumfries impeding Mike Maignan from an offside position.

After a wasteful performance in the final third, Deschamps was not willing to speculate if the situation would have been different if Mbappe played.

"The only regret is the efficiency," Deschamps told M6. "It was a match with great intensity, a Dutch team more cautious than usual.

"Compared to the opponent, we had no less 36 hours less recovery. We responded on an athletic level despite everything we did everything we had to do to recover as much as possible but hey..."

"Kylian, it's Kylian, we're not going to compare him to the others.

"[Bradley] Barcola has qualities, that's why he's there, he does good things in training. But he's never been with us. In a match like that, it's never easy to put it at the end to make the difference, but the team was rather well-balanced, we were able to create danger and defend well."

France could have sealed their place in the round of 16 with a win in Leipzig, though they will likely qualify anyway after moving onto four points with this draw.

Antoine Griezmann had the most shots for France (five), including two big chances, and he admitted that the side needed to work on their finishing ahead of their final match against Poland on Tuesday.

"I have two 'opportunities' where it stays in my feet. It's a real shame," Griezmann told beIN Sports.

"That's what we're missing in the two matches, we have to work on it. Defensively, we were good. Tactically, we were good. We're missing that little goal; it's going to happen."

Friday's action at Euro 2024 was headlined by a heavyweight Group D clash which did not quite live up to its billing, as France and the Netherlands played out a goalless draw.

While France misfired in the absence of Kylian Mbappe, who was an unused substitute after breaking his nose in Les Bleus' opener, it was VAR that frustrated the Dutch as Xavi Simons saw a potential winner chalked off for an offside call against Denzel Dumfries.  

Fortunately, there was plenty of entertainment to be had in the day's early games, as Ukraine fought back to beat Slovakia 2-1 and Austria dumped Poland out of the tournament with a 3-1 success in Berlin.

Here, we run through all the best Opta stats to emerge from the day's matches.

Slovakia 1-2 Ukraine: Shaparenko follows in Shevchenko's footsteps

The first game of the day was an emotional one for Ukraine, as they fought back from 1-0 down to clinch a 2-1 victory over Slovakia and blow Group E wide open.

Ivan Schranz's goal had put Slovakia on course for a second win in two games, as he became just the second player to net multiple goals at Euro 2024 after Germany's Jamal Musiala.

He is also just the second Slovakian player to score more than one goal at a major tournament, after Robert Vittek struck four times at the 2010 World Cup.

It was, in many ways, a case of experience versus youth in this match, as 37-year-olds Peter Pekarík and Juraj Kucka both made their 12th major tournament appearances for Slovakia (World Cup/Euros), overtaking Marek Hamsik (11) for the most in the nation's history.

Ukraine, meanwhile, named a starting lineup with an average age of just 25 years and 259 days – the youngest at this year's tournament so far and the first to come in under the 26 mark.

Youthful exuberance won the day as Ukraine came on strong in the second half, Mykola Shaparenko levelling after 54 minutes.

He became the first Dynamo Kyiv player to score at the Euros since the legendary Andriy Shevchenko did so on home soil at the 2012 tournament.

Roman Yaremchuk then came off the bench to decide the contest with a composed touch and finish in the 80th minute, becoming just the second Ukrainian substitute to net at a major tournament, after Artem Dovbyk did so against Sweden at Euro 2020.

It was also Yaremchuk's third major tournament goal, with only Shevchenko (four) boasting more for Ukraine.

Poland 1-3 Austria: Veteran Arnautovic on the spot

Austria won plenty of plaudits for their display against France on matchday one, but it did not translate into points.

That was not the case on Friday, though, as second-half goals from Christoph Baumgartner and Marko Arnautovic downed Poland, who had seen Krzysztof Piatek cancel out Gernot Trauner's early opener.

Trauner's ninth-minute header, his first competitive goal for Austria, made him just the second player to score on his first Euros start for the country, after Stefan Lainer versus North Macedonia three years ago.

It was also the fastest goal Austria have scored at the Euros, and their earliest in any tournament match since they netted twice in the first four minutes versus Czechoslovakia at the 1954 World Cup.

Ralf Rangnick's high-pressing side could not hold their lead until the interval, though, as Piatek levelled, becoming the seventh Poland player to net at the Euros and the fifth to do so on his competition debut, after Robert Lewandowski (2012), Arkadiusz Milik (2016), Karol Linetty (2020) and Adam Buksa (2024).

Lewandowski was later introduced from the bench after missing Poland's opener due to injury, as the striker (35 years, 305 days) became his nation's oldest player to feature at the Euros. That record lasted all of 15 minutes, with fellow substitute Kamil Grosicki coming on at the age of 36 years and 13 days.

A double salvo from Austria would later hand them a deserved victory, with Baumgartner and Arnautovic becoming the first players to net more than once for them at the Euros, having both scored at the 2020 edition.

Arnautovic's goal, a composed finish from the penalty spot after Marcel Sabitzer was fouled by Wojciech Szczesny, made him Austria's second-oldest goalscorer at a major tournament after Ivica Vastic (38 years, 257 days), who also netted a penalty against Poland in 2008.

Netherlands 0-0 France: Long wait for goalless draw over

Poland later became the first team to be officially eliminated from Euro 2024, courtesy of a goalless draw between the Netherlands and France in Leipzig.

Much of the pre-match talk centred on whether Mbappe would play after suffering a broken nose in Les Blues' 1-0 win over Austria on Monday. He had been fitted with a protective mask ahead of kick-off, yet was relegated to the bench, where he stayed throughout. 

France struggled in attack without their talisman, with Antoine Griezmann guilty of spurning several good chances. 

Griezmann did gain a slice of history, though, as his 32nd major tournament appearance equalled Lilian Thuram's record for the most by any outfield France player.

The Atletico Madrid man has also started each of France's last 11 games at the Euros, with Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (18) and Germany's Toni Kroos (13) the only outfielders currently on longer such streaks for their nation.

France's failure to find the breakthrough means they have failed to win any of their last seven games when Mbappe has not been in their starting lineup, drawing five and losing two such matches since the start of June 2022.

In fact, it was the Netherlands who went closest to victory as Simons saw a potential winner controversially chalked off in the second half, ensuring we got the first goalless draw of this year's tournament.

In fact, the result ended a run of 50 European Championship games without a 0-0 draw dating back to the group stages at the delayed 2020 tournament, when there was nothing to separate England and Scotland.

Xavi Simons saw a potential winner controversially disallowed as the spoils were shared in a 0-0 draw between the Netherlands and France in Group D at Euro 2024.

A VAR check led to the Dutchman's 69th-minute strike being chalked off for offside, stopping the Oranje from booking their place in the round of 16 with a game to spare.

Antoine Griezmann squandered a host of chances for France, who struggled in front of goal with Kylian Mbappe relegated to the bench due to a broken nose.

Both sides move onto four points, and after Austria's win over Poland earlier on Friday, it is all to play for between the top three on the final matchday, with Poland the first team to be officially eliminated from the tournament. 

The Netherlands came flying out of the blocks, with Jeremie Frimpong forcing a fingertip save from Mike Maignan with less than a minute on the clock.

France soon found their footing though, with Griezmann, wearing the armband in Mbappe's absence, failing to scramble it in from six yards after Adrien Rabiot's lay-off before he drilled another effort just wide of the post.

Maignan was required again when Cody Gakpo cut inside from left before whipping a firm shot across goal, as the goalkeeper got a strong hand to it.

Just before the half-hour mark, Marcus Thuram looked set to break the deadlock after beating the offside trap, but one-on-one with the goalkeeper, he sliced his effort over the crossbar.

After a slow start to the second half, France rallied on the hour mark, with Aurelien Tchouameni flashing a header over before Griezmann saw another glorious opportunity smothered by Bart Verbruggen at his near post.

Against the run of play, Simons thought he had given the Netherlands the lead by picking out the bottom-right corner after latching onto the rebound of Memphis Depay's saved shot, but Denzel Dumfries, in an offside position, was judged to be impeding the goalkeeper and the goal was ruled out after a lengthy VAR check.

Toothless France struggle without their talisman

All the pre-match talk centred on whether Mbappe would be fit to play after suffering a broken nose against Austria.

The answer: he was not. Instead, he started on the bench, with Marcus Thuram tasked with playing as the main forward in his absence.

Griezmann provided their foremost threat though, appearing in his 11th consecutive game at the Euros for France – Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (18) and Germany's Toni Kroos (13) are the only outfielders on longer such streaks for their nations.

It was a record-equalling appearance for the stand-in captain too, his 32nd at major tournaments, the most for a French outfielder along with Lilian Thuram.

However, the forward had four of France's five first-half shots, finishing with five overall, but failed to lead Les Bleus to a statement victory.

Still, France's wait for a win without Mbappe in their starting lineup goes on, as they have failed to come out on top in any of their last seven such matches (four draws, three defeats).

Netherlands smother Les Bleus

After losing both meetings in qualifying for Euro 2024 by an aggregate score of 6-1, the Netherlands were likely not too happy to come up against Les Bleus once more.

However, in the absence of Mbappe, who has scored six goals in five matches against the Dutch, the Netherlands were able to hold firm.

At the Euros, the Oranje have now avoided defeat in all three of their group-stage meetings with France (2000, 2008, 2024).

Defensively, they stood strong. Despite France having 13 shots, only three were on target as they created 1.4 expected goals (xG).

Virgil van Dijk led by example, making the most clearances (seven) of anybody on the pitch as the Netherlands protected their clean sheet.

Didier Deschamps says "everything is going in the right direction" when it comes to Kylian Mbappe's fitness.

Mbappe sustained a broken nose during France's 1-0 win over Austria on Monday, casting his participation in the rest of Les Bleus' Euro 2024 campaign into doubt.

However, in a positive move, the 25-year-old returned to light training, while wearing a protective bandage, on Wednesday.

And ahead of France's clash with the Netherlands, Deschamps was optimistic that his captain will be available.

"Everything is going in the right direction after this major shock he had, with the consequences, of course," Deschamps said on Thursday.

"Yesterday, as you could see, he was able to go out and do some activity. That will be the case tonight too.

"So it has evolved in the right direction. We'll do everything we can to ensure that he can be available tomorrow."

If he indeed does play in Leipzig, then Mbappe will have to wear a protective mask.

Deschamps added: "Kylian will be wearing a mask yes, you don't really need to know the details about this mask."

Antoine Griezmann joined Deschamps in offering a positive update.

"Kylian is doing very well, his nose has deflated a little. We will see until the last moment, depending on his feelings," Griezmann said.

Mbappe had four shots without scoring in their 1-0 win over Austria, taking his total to 18 attempts without scoring at the Euros, the most of any Frenchman since 1980. By contrast, at the World Cup he has scored 12 goals in 14 matches with a 31% shot conversion rate.

He will surely be extra eager to return to action given his record against the Dutch.

The Netherlands are Mbappe's favourite opponent – he has scored six goals in five matches against them, more than against any other side in his international career with France. In fact, his first ever goal for Les Bleus came against the Netherlands in August 2017.

Antoine Griezmann has described France team-mate Olivier Giroud as the ideal team player ahead of the 37-year-old's final home international fixture on Sunday. 

Les Bleus conclude their Euro 2024 preparations with a friendly fixture against Canada in Bordeaux, before travelling to Germany for their Group D opener against Austria. 

The tournament will be Giroud's final for his country, after the former Arsenal striker confirmed he would be retiring from international football at the end of the competition. He will be hoping to add to his 57 goals, which currently has him as France's all-time top scorer. 

A move to the United States is on the horizon for the 2018 World Cup winner, officially joining LAFC when the MLS' transfer window opens on July 18, leaving Milan after a three-year stint having scored 48 goals in 132 appearances, the second-most he has managed for a single club behind the Gunners. 

Speaking ahead of their fixture against Jesse Marsch's side, Griezmann hailed his team-mate's contribution to his national side, hoping the fixture at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux is a special occasion. 

"Giroud said that's his last dance, I hope tomorrow there’s a special something for him," Griezmann said.

"He's a man who deserves recognition. To be the player he has been…that's him, he's the ideal player for a group, for a coach, I have total respect for him and what he's done."

This will be France's first game against Canada since the 1986 World Cup and head coach Didier Deschamps is expecting a more difficult test than last Wednesday when France beat Luxembourg 3-0 in Metz.

Griezmann acknowledged the difficulty his side face, saying: “We need to see if we're ready, tactically, offensively, defensively. This is going to give you some confidence before the big tournament. It's important to see if we're ready. If not, we need to work on it.

"[Canada] won't be easy. We saw that at the World Cup. They have players who are increasingly present here in Europe, so the game is improving over there. They have renowned players, it's a good test for us."

Antoine Griezmann called on France's players and staff - and the French media - to ensure Kylian Mbappe is "in the best condition" to lead Les Bleus to glory at Euro 2024.

Didier Deschamps' side are among the favourites to land a record-equalling third European Championship crown in Germany, adding to their triumphs of 1984 and 2000.

The future of Mbappe, who is expected to play a starring role in France's cause, remains uncertain following his departure from Paris Saint-Germain, though he is heavily linked with a blockbuster move to Real Madrid.

Griezmann does not expect the ongoing speculation to affect his team-mate, but insists everyone must pull together to put the skipper in the best shape to deliver the goods for Les Bleus.

"He knows how to put things into perspective," the Atletico Madrid forward told reporters during a press conference. "It's up to us and the staff to put him in the best condition. It's also up to [the media] to talk less about it, but I understand.

"We know him. He is a very important player for us. It's up to everyone to put him in the best condition, and we're going to do it so that it takes us as far as possible. He's big, and he knows how to handle all that very well.

Griezmann is gearing up for his third European Championship with France, who will face the Netherlands, Poland and Austria in Group D.

The 33-year-old top-scored with six goals as Les Bleus narrowly came up short as hosts in 2016 - losing to Portugal in the final - while Switzerland beat them on penalties in the last 16 of the delayed 2020 event.

And he believes that solid foundations at the back will be crucial if he and the nation are to be victorious this time around.

"We were so close [in 2016]," he said. "It was the same thing at the last European Championship, with the penalties.

"I have a lot of desire and a lot of ambition, but we will have to prove it on the pitch. For me, the key - even if it's always very boring - is going to be the defence, a solid team, tough during challenges, and very good defensively."

Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 LaLiga win at Getafe on Wednesday as Diego Simeone's side sealed Champions League qualification.

The France star opened the scoring in the 27th minute from Rodrigo De Paul's throughball and had his second shortly before half-time, flicking Samuel Lino's pinpoint pass past Getafe goalkeeper David Soria.

Griezmann completed his hat-trick in the 51st minute with a fine finish under Soria's legs, with Lino claiming his second assist by playing Los Colchoneros' all-time leading scorer into the area.

It was Griezmann's second hat-trick of the season, after he also netted three times in a 3-0 win at Celta Vigo last October.

With two games remaining, Simeone's side are now on 73 points in fourth, 11 ahead of fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao, who lost 2-1 against Celta Vigo on Wednesday.

Data Debrief: Griezmann repeats the trick

Griezmann is the only player to score two hat-tricks in LaLiga this season, and the only player to net a treble with all three goals coming on his left foot.

He might need to go even further to put himself in Golden Boot contention, though, with his 16 goals for this term putting him behind Artem Dovbyk (20), Jude Bellingham, Alexander Sorloth (both 19) and Robert Lewandowski (17).

Aurelien Tchouameni’s deflected strike was enough to secure Real Madrid a 1-0 win at Mallorca and keep them out on front at the top of LaLiga.

France midfielder Tchouameni broke the deadlock early in the second half as Real extended their unbeaten league run to 25 matches and after arch-rivals Barcelona’s win later on Saturday night, the gap remains eight points.

The two sides meet in El Clasico next Sunday and Barca also remain in top form as they made it six straight wins in all competitions after Joao Felix’s first-half overhead kick secured all three points in Cadiz.

Barcelona were indebted to goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for their win as the German goalkeeper made two crucial saves to deny Cadiz pair Javi Hernandez and Diadie Samassekou.

Antoine Griezmann scored twice to help keep Atletico Madrid on course for the final Champions League spot after a 3-1 home win against Girona, who remain third.

Griezmann’s first-half penalty cancelled out Artem Dovbyk’s early opener for Girona and Angel Correa headed Atletico into the lead in stoppage time before the break.

France forward Griezmann added his 12th league goal of the season early in the second period as Girona slipped to their fifth defeat in eight league matches.

Rayo Vallecano edged six points clear of the relegation zone after being held 0-0 at home by Getafe.

In the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich got their domestic campaign back on track as second-half goals from Raphael Guerreiro and Thomas Muller sealed a 2-0 home win against Cologne.

It was a crucial win for Bayern, who had lost their previous two league matches, as Champions League rivals Stuttgart, Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund all won.

Dani Olmo, Benjamin Sesko and Lois Openda were on target for Leipzig in their 3-0 home win against Wolfsburg and Dortmund held on to win 2-1 at Borussia Monchengladbach despite the second-half dismissal of Germany winger Karim Adeyemi.

Marcel Sabitzer gave Dortmund the lead and then converted a penalty before Max Wober hit back for the hosts before the interval.

Adeyemi’s second yellow card left Dortmund with 10 men for most of the second period, but they held on.

Third-placed Stuttgart extended their unbeaten run to nine matches with a 3-0 home win against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Serhou Guirassy, Deniz Undav and Jamie Leweling were all on target in the first half for Stuttgart, who are level on points with Bayern.

Mainz boosted their survival hopes with a 4-1 home win over Hoffenheim, which made it 10 points from their last four matches and lifted them to within a point of Bochum, who drew 1-1 against Heidenheim.

In Serie A, Juventus failed to close the gap on second-placed Milan after they were held 0-0 by derby rivals Torino.

Juve have won only one of their last six domestic league matches and are five points behind Milan and 19 adrift of leaders Inter, with the top two both in action on Sunday.

Fourth-placed Bologna failed to capitalise on Juve’s dropped points as they were also held to a goalless stalemate at home against Monza, while Nicola Sansone’s late goal clinched Lecce a 1-0 home win against Empoli.

In Ligue 1, Reims’ hopes of European football next season were dealt a blow as they lost 3-1 at Strasbourg and Rennes had a setback in their bid for a top-six finish after losing 2-1 at home to Toulouse.

Barcelona boss Xavi said on-loan forward Joao Felix is “super motivated” for Sunday’s LaLiga clash against his parent club Atletico Madrid.

Portugal international Felix, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Chelsea, will return to the Metropolitano Stadium for the first time since joining Barca in September.

Felix has scored eight goals in all competitions for Xavi’s side, including the winner against Atletico in Barca’s home fixture in December, since arriving on a season-long loan.

Xavi told a press conference: “He likes fiery atmospheres to show his worth. Joao has a strong personality. He is not afraid and really wants to show what he can do and his character.

“He has all he needs for a great performance, just like the one from earlier in the season (when Barca beat Atletico 1-0) – he’s super motivated.”

Atletico pair Antoine Griezmann and Memphis Depay are also hoping to face their former club in a game Xavi described as a “vital one, like all the ones that remain because we need to pick up points in the league”.

Barca currently sit third in the table and are running out of chances to cut the sizeable gap to leaders Real Madrid.

Atletico, in fourth place, six points adrift of Barca, are unbeaten at home in the league in 14 matches this season.

Diego Simeone’s side bounced back from last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Cadiz by beating Inter Milan on penalties in midweek to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

Xavi, whose side also progressed to the last eight of the Champions League in midweek after overcoming Napoli, added: “The game is against a Champions League rival and they showed that the other day (against Inter). It will be a really tough away game and I think both sides are in good form.

“I’m sure it will be a great game and let’s hope we can pick up three points, although I don’t think they have lost at home in the league since we won there last season (January 2023).”

Xavi said he was hopeful both Marcos Alonso and Ferran Torres can recover from injury in time to feature in his squad.

Jan Oblak saved two penalties in a shoot-out as Atletico Madrid booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a 3-2 win on penalties after they drew 2-2 with Inter Milan on aggregate.

Marko Arnautovic’s first-leg goal gave last year’s finalists a lead heading into the second leg at Civitas Metropolitano and they opened the scoring to double their aggregate lead just after the half-hour mark through Federico Dimarco.

Antoine Griezmann struck a couple of minutes later to bring the deficit back to one at the break but it was all Atletico following the interval.

Substitute Memphis Depay came to Atletico’s rescue with three minutes to spare, making it 2-1 on the night and level on aggregate just moments after hitting the post.

Neither side managed to find in a winner in extra time and Oblak saved penalties from Alexis Sanchez and Davy Klaasen before Lautaro Martinez blasted over to send Inter out.

Inter were in no mood to rest on their laurels as Hakan Calhanoglu set Denzel Dumfries before the Netherlands international worked his way inside the box and was twice denied by Oblak.

At the other end Mario Hermoso’s cross found Morata but he could only head at Yann Sommer.

Inter opened the scoring on the night in the 33rd minute when Nicolo Barella worked his way down the wing and cut back to Dimarco, who lashed home from inside the box.

Atletico were not behind for long and were on level terms a couple of minutes later as Koke lifted the ball back into the box, where it bounced into the path of Griezmann, who picked out the bottom corner.

Atletico’s tails were up following the equaliser and they could have gone into the half-time break level on aggregate when Griezmann unleashed on goal only for Benjamin Pavard to block and clear to safety.

Inter could have put the tie to bed with 15 minutes to go as a swift counter attack ended at the feet of Marcus Thuram, who ran through on goal but shot over the crossbar.

Atletico were still looking for the important goal that would bring them level and Angel Correa’s low cross found Depay, who turned but could not get enough contact to trouble Sommer.

Time was running out for the hosts who continued to probe and the woodwork saved Inter on this occasion when the ball popped out to Depay from 20 yards who rifled past a bystanding Sommer but onto the post.

A minute later, Atletico had their deserved aggregate equaliser as Koke’s defence-splitting pass found Depay, and this time he made no mistake to put them 2-1 up on the night.

Atletico had a chance to snatch it at the death as Griezmann picked out the onrushing Rodrigo Riquelme who blazed over the bar to send the match into extra time and subsequently the second penalty shoot-out of the round.

Inter were first to blink in the shoot-out when Sanchez saw his penalty saved by Oblak but opposite number Sommer repeated the feat to keep out Saul Niguez and, after Klaasen saw his penalty saved, Martinez blasted over to seal Inter’s fate.

Alejandro Berenguer slammed home a first-half penalty as Athletic Bilbao claimed a 1-0 first-leg lead over Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-final.

Berenguer scored the winner from 12 yards in the 25th minute after Benat Prados was brought down inside the box.

Atletico banged on the door in the second half to avoid taking a defeat into the return leg and missed chances through Antoine Griezmann, Samuel Lino and Alvaro Morata.

The hosts thought they had a last-minute penalty but a VAR offside call denied them.

Bilbao were awarded a spot-kick after Reinildo Mandava clattered into Prados in the area and Berenguer dispatched into the bottom corner, sending Jan Oblak the wrong way.

Atletico struggled to make an impression for much of the first period and had a first sniff of an equaliser five minutes later when the ball fell for Lino outside the area but he curled over the crossbar.

There was a slight moment of panic in the 35th minute as goalkeeper Julen Agirrezabala attempted to keep the ball in play but had his pocket picked by Memphis Depay on the byline, but his shot on goal was heroically blocked by Aitor Paredes.

Atletico ended the half the more dangerous of the two sides and Griezmann was next to come close when his first-time effort flew just wide of the near post.

Bilbao had a glorious chance to double their advantage after the break as Unai Gomez’s effort was parried by Oblak into the path of Asier Villalibre but he could only divert the rebound into the side-netting.

Chances began to fall at either end and this time Lino decided to let rip from the left edge but he curled just wide of the post.

Atletico’s eagerness to not take a loss away to Bilbao became a lot more evident as they began to commit players up the pitch, with Griezmann next to come close when his effort from six yards was blocked behind by Agirrezabala again.

Atletico spurned another golden chance to equalise when Morata failed to divert a dangerous whipped cross on target.

Agirrezabala was beaten for the first time in the match when Angel Correa smashed past him inside the box but Bilbao defender Inigo Lekue was waiting behind the keeper to clear the ball off the line and keep the clean sheet intact.

Atletico thought they were given a last-gasp chance to equalise when referee Alejandro Hernandez pointed to the spot after Dani Vivian tripped Morata inside the box but the VAR adjudged the striker to be offside in the build-up.

Madrid had yet another chance in stoppage time but Morata could only glance a header from close range wide.

Antoine Griezmann has said Atletico Madrid “will be almost 100 per cent” the last club he plays for in Europe.

The 32-year-old France forward, in his second spell with Los Colchoneros, is enjoying a stellar season in LaLiga, ending the year as leading scorer (21) and assist-maker (16).

He also became Atletico’s joint all-time leading scorer earlier this month when equalling Luis Aragones’ record of 173 goals in the recent 3-3 draw with Getafe.

Griezmann, who has already revealed he wants to sign a new deal with Atletico, told Spanish sports newspaper AS: “Yes, that’s what I said. I know the club is in favour of being able to make an effort and we will talk about it.

“Beyond Europe, what I would like later is the MLS (Major League Soccer), I’ve always recognised that.

“But Atletico will be almost 100 per cent my last club in Europe. It’s where I want to be, where I look the happiest and here I am at home.”

Griezmann said he only recently became aware how close he was to Aragones’ goal-scoring record.

“I haven’t been thinking about it,” he said. “In the summer, when I found out that I was 16 goals behind, maybe yes.

“I thought that if I had a good season I could do it, but I didn’t see myself getting it in December. When you have something in your head you get closer to the box, to the opponent’s goal and you want to score goals.

“I still don’t think about it much. I don’t want to spoil things either, but it will be something inexplicable about emotions and everything. I’d rather that day come and (then) enjoy it to the fullest.”

Griezmann became the sixth most expensive player in history at the time when he left Atletico to join Barcelona for £107million in 2019.

Los Colchoneros re-signed him on a contract until 2026 in October 2022, having initially returned to the Madrid club on a two-year loan deal at the start of the 2021-22 season.

Page 1 of 13
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.