A major Barça rookie this summer, Antoine Griezmann, off center on the left side during the first half of the season, struggled to regain the influence of his years at Atlético Madrid. The arrival of Quique Setién in Catalonia could well be a real turning point for the French.
Finally, it may be a double boost from fate that will launch Antoine Griezmann’s story with the Blaugrana. In early January, Luis Suarez, hit in the knee, was forced to undergo surgery. The Uruguayan will thus be absent from the field at least until May. In the process, Barça announced, on January 13, the appointment of Quique Setién to the position of coach, in place of Ernesto Valverde. Positioned as a pure left winger, often stuck to the line, during his first months in Catalonia, the native of Mâcon had struggled to really exist within the Barcelona collective, despite correct statistics (11 goals and 4 assists in 27 meetings in all competitions). The arrival of Setién as well as the injury of Suarez coincided with a replacement in the axis of the French, in a 3-5-2 new-look. A composition that better matches the qualities of Griezmann, who has more freedom in his game, and who likes to have a solution to combine on the front of the attack.
A double in the axis facing Ibiza
In the first match of the Setien era, against Granada (won 1-0 by the Catalans), we saw him pick up, participate in the game, without managing to be very decisive, despite a penultimate pass for Vidal on the winning goal from Messi. The Spanish Cup match against Ibiza (Barca’s 2-1 victory) on Wednesday showed the value of replacing Griezmann. Having scored twice, the former Colchonero showed his ability to make the right call on his first goal, and his clinical finish on the second. Qualities that inevitably pleased his trainer. After the meeting, Quique Setién thus answered questions on the possibility of permanently installing French in the axis: “It is an option, really. We don’t have a specific player who can play in “9”. But the alternative Griezmann, who played very well against Ibiza, is there. He reads the markdowns well, his teammates knew how to find him well… We are evaluating this possibility ”.
Leave construction for finishing
A blessing for the Real Sociedad-trained player, who seemed to be putting his brakes on the left flank. However, to settle permanently in the axis, the 28-year-old player may have to play a little unnatural. At Atlético Madrid, he used to participate a lot in building the game, ditto with the French team. Many players at FC Barcelona can take on this task, from midfielders (De Jong, Busquets, Arthur, Rakitic …) to Messi, of course, who enjoys complete freedom. By dezoning, Griezmann could therefore overload the Catalan midfield, and leave the point unoccupied. In this system, it is at the end of the actions, whether by deflection or by trying his luck, that Griezmann is expected. This is what he did against Ibiza, agreeing to touch fewer balls (only 32 in 90 minutes), to hit on his only two shots of the match. An efficiency which he praised after the meeting: “As always I am there to help the team where I am needed,” said the three-color striker after his double in the Cup. We played very high and I had to wait for the opportunities, and two ended up at the back. ”
This Saturday, Barça Setién version passes its first big test, moving to Mestalla to face Valencia (16 hours). The opportunity for Antoine Griezmann to punctuate a week that could change the course of its history at FC Barcelona.