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Antoine Griezmann
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How can Quique Setien get the best out of Antoine Griezmann?

Antoine Griezmann
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The life of a top-flight footballer is hardly an easy one. Performing consistently at the highest level with excellent performances through thick and thin, despite battling injuries, niggles, intense criticism and immense competition is a superhuman feat to say the least. Being a fighter to the core and embracing the challenges, is a necessary attribute to make it big. French attacker Antoine Griezmann is hardly a stranger to that. The former Atlético Madrid striker has enjoyed a rather interesting career so far.

Initial Struggle:

From being rejected by several clubs in France because he was too “small”, to emerging as one of the best players in world football. The journey has been memorable with its fair share of challenges. 

Antoine Griezmann rose through the ranks after being picked by Real Sociedad for their youth team. He broke through the first team in the 2009-10 season, at the tender age of 19. Griezmann started as a left winger and as his career progressed moved into the middle, playing as a second striker.

The attacker scored 52 goals in 202 appearances for Sociedad, resulting in a concrete approach from La Liga giants Atlético Madrid. The 29-year-old signed on for a sum close to his €30 million (£24 million) buy-out clause.

Griezmann continued to excel emerging as a vital cog in Diego Simeone’s system. 

The Frenchman’s crucial goal against FC Bayern Munich in the 2015-16 edition of the UEFA Champions League, helped seal Atletico’s place in the final. His heroics in the Champions League and Euros propelled Griezmann to the Ballon D’or podium. The attacker further followed up with WC glory for France in the 2018 edition.

Such exploits are certainly hard to ignore, resulting in FC Barcelona engaging in a controversial transfer tussle. Atlético Madrid displayed remarkable resistance when forced to come to terms with their star striker’s departure. However, they were left with no choice as the Blaugranas paid Griezmann’s release clause of €120 million in the 2019-20 season.

Joining the Blaugranas:

The 29-year-old attacker has quietly delivered the goods in his first season. Griezmann delivered commendable performances on the wings under former manager Ernesto Valverde, scoring 14 goals and 4 assists in 37 appearances. However, the majority still believe that the striker is yet to give a true glimpse of his talent. Some have even criticized the striker as being sluggish, sparking an image of a player who has been misunderstood.   

In such a scenario, it will be certainly interesting to see whether new manager Quique Setien, will succeed in helping Griezmann reach the heights he is capable of. 

The 29-year-old is a hard working player who believes in working his socks off. He drops deep into pockets of space to create a link between midfield and attack. The Frenchman further enjoys good vision and passing abilities. This enables him to create chances for teammates and score effectively when handed an opportunity.

Can Setien lead Griezmann to glory?

Setien on the other hand, is a football purist. A man who believes in possession based football, having deployed the same strategy to great success during the triumph over Barcelona in 2018. Setien completely outplayed Ernesto Valverde, despite possessing an inferior squad.

Antoine Griezmann has undeniably struggled recently when positioned in the centre by Setien. However, the attacker has the ability to emerge as an astute performer when deployed as a LW. Griezmann fits the Barcelona setup perfectly, with his technical abilities. The attacker is extremely astute positionally with his movements, which fits perfectly with the manager’s requirements, and inability to afford much freedom. 

The 29-year-old needs to hug the touchline to stretch the defense of the opposition, which will be challenging initially. A look at Thierry Henry who succeeded in the Barcelona setup with a similar profile, will make things easier.

However, the most important aspect will be providing enough time for Griezmann to adapt in a particular position.

The attacker enjoys exquisite link up abilities, which are ideal for a team like Barcelona. Antoine Griezmann also has the stamina to make constant runs behind defensive lines, considering the fact that he is among the fittest players in the team.

The French attacker can further help the team during defensive transitions, making him a complete performer.

Written By: Sanket Patil.


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