The Frenchman just won the Player of the Month award for March and now takes on the club he represented between 2019 and 2021.
Antoine Griezmann is in truly sensational form and is arguably the best performer so far in the 2022/23 LaLiga Santander season. His two goals against UD Almería in the last matchday were his 10th and 11th of the league campaign, but he is also proving key to Atlético de Madrid’s build-up play and has provided eight assists so far, which is the most of all players in the division and just one fewer than his personal best for a league season.
He just won the LaLiga Santander Player of the Month prize for March and now he is preparing for what will be a very special match on a personal level. That’s because he is facing the club he played for between 2019 and 2021.
Griezmann’s two years at FC Barcelona
Griezmann had become one of Atlético de Madrid’s standout players during the five seasons he spent as a Rojiblanco between 2014 and 2019. During that time, he also won the World Cup and was a runner-up at the European Championships with France. Such was his impact that FC Barcelona managed to sign him in 2019 after having been on the verge of doing so in 2018.
Despite scoring 35 goals in two seasons in Catalonia, he never seemed to fully fit in and a move back to Atleti materialised at the end of the 2021 summer transfer window. “Knowing that Atleti wanted me back, I wanted to return no matter what and this is the best place for me to be happy on and off the pitch,” Griezmann said before his re-debut with Los Rojiblancos, where he is now a permanent member of the squad.
Griezmann’s excellent 2022/23
Since his move back to Atleti was confirmed as permanent in October 2022, the 32-year-old has been in a special form. He showed that in Qatar as he helped France reach the World Cup final with his performances from midfield, a role he started playing under Diego Simeone.
In the months since the World Cup, Griezmann has continued to occupy a deeper role, playing behind either Álvaro Morata, Ángel Correa or Memphis Depay. It seems that everything Griezmann touches right now is turning to gold and that makes sense since El Cholo understands this special footballer better than anybody else.
Simeone was the one who converted him from a dangerous wide forward to a lethal striker when the Frenchman made the move from Real Sociedad to Atlético de Madrid in 2014. It was under Simeone’s tutelage that Griezmann finished third in the Ballon d’Or voting of 2016 and 2018, winning the World Cup in Russia as an Atleti player too. After that 4-2 win over Croatia in the final, the first message Griezmann sent when he picked up his phone in the France dressing room was to Simeone. “Me achieving this is thanks to you,” he wrote to the Argentine.
Now, they are achieving wins together once again. Of Simeone’s 618 matches as Atlético de Madrid coach, he has won 364 of them. 332 of those matches and 154 of those victories have come with Griezmann on the field. Simeone has never won away at the Spotify Camp Nou as Atlético de Madrid coach, but he and Griezmann will feel confident of changing that this Sunday.