Champions League – Before Atlético-Manchester City: Atlético's salvation will go through Griezmann

Champions League – Before Atlético-Manchester City: Atlético’s salvation will go through Griezmann

The bet has been attempted, taken to excess. And he was lost. By little, since it was not until the last twenty minutes, a flash of genius from Phil Foden and a cross shot from Kevin De Bruyne for the wall erected by Atlético Madrid to crack in front of Manchester City, last Tuesday (1- 0). Dominated excessively, long solid but unable to resist until the end, the reigning Spanish champion will therefore have a handicap to overcome during the return leg, this Wednesday at the Wanda Metropolitano (9 p.m.). Fortunately for him, he can count on Antoine Griezmann.

Certainly, the French international was also present in the first leg. But confined to a very defensive role, he had – as usual – not balked at the task, giving essentially of his person to stem the waves of Mancun. As for his number of balls touched, he proved so starved (only 7 in the first period, including one in the last 30 opposing meters) that it was impossible for him to pose the slightest threat to Ederson’s goal.

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Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid) against Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City). / Champions League

Credit: Getty Images

There is the Griezmann of La Liga and that of the C1

To benefit more from the qualities of the Blue ball at the foot, Atléti will therefore have to start by keeping it longer, this ball, and investing as often as possible the Skyblues half of the field. This is an essential prerequisite, and we can assume that Diego Simeone is aware of it. Then, and without going so far as to imagine a total control of the Colchoneros on the game, the attacking midfielder on loan from FC Barcelona will be able to give more space to the expression of his talent.

Because even more than Joao Félix, oh so talented but still devoid of significant reference at such a level, Griezmann knows how to be decisive in major events. It has been too often disappointing in La Liga this season, did it weigh little in Mallorca last weekend (1-0)? Perhaps. When the Champions League anthem sounds, on the other hand, the situation is no longer the same. The number 7 of the France team is involved in 67% of Atlético’s goals in C1 in 2021-2022 (4 goals, 2 assists). This is more than any other player participating in the quarters of this edition.

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Reversing a badly embarked situation, Grizou knows

On March 15, it was one of his delicious crosses that allowed Renan Lodi to score and Atlético to dominate Manchester United at Old Trafford (0-1, 1-1 in the first leg ). The fourth best tricolor scorer in the history of the Champions League (29 goals, tied with David Trézéguet) is also a regular at these cutthroat matches, during which the Matelassiers have often been able to pull out of the game despite outsider status. We inevitably remember the half in Munich, in 2016, which saw the Frenchman propel his team into the final by beating Manuel Neuer closely (1-2, 0-1).

Note that Bayern, who looked like a scarecrow, was then coached by… Pep Guardiola. And if we go back further in time, we notice that Atlético qualified twice after losing the first leg away from home. Bayer Leverkusen, in 2015 (0-1, 1-0, 4-2 tab) and Barça, the following year (1-2, 2-0), can testify to this. Each time, Grizou was in the game. Reverse a badly embarked situation, he knows how to do. And if he has the opportunity to repeat such a performance this Wednesday, he will certainly not deprive himself of it.

Antoine Griezmann (Atlético)

Credit: Getty Images

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