Despite not leaving Atletico on best terms, Griezmann has recently admitted that he feels welcomed by the club after making his return to Atletico this summer. The Frenchman has also defended his time at Barcelona, stating that his time at Camp Nou was better than claimed by many. Griezmann secured a high-profile move from Atletico Madrid to Barcelona in 2019 but struggled to replicate his form at Camp Nou, scoring 22 goals and adding a further 11 assists in 74 league appearances before re-joining his former team. Although his time with the Blaugrana was not what many had anticipated, Griezmann remains proud of his time at Camp Nou.
Since his return to the Wanda Metropolitano, Griezmann’s form has somewhat mirrored Atletico’s so far. Just as his team, the Frenchman’s performances in the La Liga have been inconsistent with just three goals and one assist in 13 matches. Atletico started the season with one of the strongest squads on paper, but their inconsistency has been a roadblock so far as they attempt to defend their title. Consequently, they are placed fifth in La Liga with eight wins, five draws, and four losses in 17 matches. Atletico have lost three successive matches in the league since securing a 4-1 win against Cadiz away. In their recent defeat against local rival Real Madrid, Griezmann had one of his side’s best chances late in the first half when he took a free-kick which required a save from the opposition goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois. Subsequently, Griezmann was replaced by Joao Félix at the start of the second half due to a muscle concern as his side succumbed to a 2-0 defeat.
While his form in La Liga has been inconsistent, Griezmann has played a prominent role as his side confirmed their seat in the knockout round of the Champions League.
Let’s analyze his stats in the Champions League this season to gauge whether the Frenchman can provide Atletico with the attacking spark in the knockouts.
This season, Griezmann has featured in all but one of Atletico’s group stage matches, scoring four goals in five appearances. The majority of his attacking and creativity stats have been above the league median value. His most notable stats have been xG per shot, shot accuracy, and successive attacking actions. He is adept at playing in a front two and effectively combines his goal scoring with creativity. Griezmann’s creative side of the game was evident in Atletico’s victory over Porto in his side’s final group stage match as he assisted Correa’s stoppage-time counterattack goal.
Greizmann’s link-up play is evident from his pass receive locations above. He often drops deep near the centre and in his half to receive passes from his teammates before turning and progressing the play with a pass. His touches in the opposition penalty box and chance creation aspect provide Atletico with the attacking edge and threat. Griezmann is also adept at dragging the defender with him to free up the space for his fellow forward players.
His heat map indicates the areas of the pitch where he is most active. In Simeone’s 3-5-2 system in Atletico, Griezmann is deployed in a two-man attacking setup, where he utilizes his pace and dribbling to drag out the defenders and create pockets for his fellow forward. While his accuracy with the final balls can still improve, Griezmann nonetheless possesses the work rate and creative element that makes him a huge threat in the opposition’s half.
In terms of expected goal contributions, Griezmann ranks among the top in the Champions League this season. He averages an xG contribution of 0.93 per match.
In Griezmann, Atletico have a player who combines his goal-scoring instinct with creativity and link-up. While he is yet to reach his stride in La Liga, he has produced impressive performances in the Champions League. The stats indicate that the Frenchman can provide Atletico with the attacking spark in the knockouts.