The adaptation to Barcelona has been far tougher than what most fans would have expected with such a world-class star. However, with three goals in his last four La Liga games, Antoine Griezmann may well be on his way to becoming a new hero at the Camp Nou.
As his first few months weren’t flamboyant and at the level of a hundred-million signing, Antoine Griezmann wasn’t really a fan favourite and the phantom of Philippe Coutinho haunted a major part of the culés faithful.
They were scared that another incredible player signed for a hefty fee would be nothing more than an anonymous within a year.
Flashbacks of Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Coutinho had begun taunting Barca fans and some questioned the fact that Griezmann gave his all for France and not for the Blaugranas after his brace against Albania in the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
One month on and Griezmann has already changed a lot of people’s minds: from zero to hero at Barcelona.
His perseverance and will to go forward while doing what he is asked to perfection makes him one of the most enjoyable Azulgrana to watch.
No flashy, unnecessary dribbles or ball losses. No low-quality shots, no absurd amount of impossible attempts that result in nothing. Griezmann reunites all the qualities of a good attacker and this has helped him find his feet in his new position.
This is the first time since he joined Diego Simeone’s set-up that Griezmann has to play in a three-man attack. He usually played as a second striker to an out-and-out frontman (Diego Costa, or Olivier Giroud or Andre-Pierre Gignac with France), but now with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi being guaranteed starters and Ousmane Dembele injured until the New Year, there was no time to waste for Antoine.
He has become a much more intelligent player in the eyes of his own fans, and numbers back him. He attempts way less shots and scores way more.
In his last outing against Alaves, he attempted one shot, which he scored from and before El Classico was on target three times against Real Sociedad and scored there, too.
His goal against his former side was a magnificent lob going over promising goalkeeper Alex Remiro.. He of course did not celebrate.
But his performance was a serious football lesson, quite resembling of the one Dembele delivered against Levante in December 2018, where he played at right-back to help Barca secure a 5–0 victory thanks to a sublime Messi hat-trick.
Running up and down the pitch (Dembele was played as a right-back because Nelson Semedo and Sergi Roberto weren’t available), picking out the best teammate and playing with his head held high.
Griezmann showed his whole arsenal and never ceased to amaze the Barcelona supporters. This complete display was the result of the good will he showed in his last four fixtures.
Especially, his game against Dortmund which was exquisite. The unfortunate injury that Ousmane suffered meant that Griezmann would be utilised at the half hour of the game and it was like Messi, Suarez and Griezmann were playing together since they were young, just like the MSN used to do.
As if three best friends were playing and the chemistry between them was clear as day. Over the hour mark, Griezmann rounded off his serious performance with a goal and on the scoresheet appeared the three names of the attackers: Messi, Suarez and finally Griezmann. Giving Barca fans and board goosebumps and memories of the MSN, something they had dreamed of ever since Neymar’s departure in 2017.
Griezmann has been a joy to watch and he seems totally fulfilled, playing at a club everyone would like to play for as a starter, and scoring and creating goals for absolute legends of the game.
That’s one of the reasons why El Principito might be playing his socks off and with so much seriousness. Nothing is more stressful than playing to a top two club in the world, nothing is more stressful than waiting for the Barca fans’ appreciation, nothing is more stressful than playing at Camp Nou, a ground that seems twice as big when players play on it. As Griezmann has proved, a hero is not made overnight.
Football is fast, faster than the human brain and sometimes a player that was forgotten or criticised ups his game a little and becomes quickly a regular fixture in the lineup.
That’s exactly what the Frenchman has done, and fruits have begun to flourish. To more Antoine Griezmann delights!
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