Antoine Griezmann’s struggles reflect Barcelona’s drab showings, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Antoine Griezmann’s struggles reflect Barcelona’s drab showings

Barcelona fielded their fabulous four against Leganes on Saturday for the first time this season, but it was only after Antoine Griezmann went off that his replacement scored the winner.

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele and Griezmann all started, but Griezmann departed in the 57th minute before Arturo Vidal poked home in the 79th.

When Barca signed Griezmann last summer for 120 million euros (S$181m) from Atletico Madrid, many wondered where the Frenchman would fit into their stacked front line, which would have swelled further had Paris Saint-Germain come to terms over a deal for Neymar.

Gerard Pique has said key players were even prepared to alter their contracts to facilitate Neymar's arrival and while Messi has dismissed talk of a rift with Griezmann, doubts persist.

"He's a player who has just arrived - and at a club like Barca, who play a little differently from other clubs," said Clement Lenglet last month.

"He helps us a lot with his talent, with his defensive effort, because he is a player who sacrifices a lot for the team. I don't think there is any problem with Antoine Griezmann."

Many expected Griezmann to reinforce and eventually replace Suarez down the middle, but Ernesto Valverde has been curiously reluctant to field him in the position closest to the one he thrived in for Atletico last season.


Barcelona sit top of La Liga, ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference, but dreary performances have not looked worthy of league champions and, still less, winners of the Champions League.

They face Borussia Dortmund at the Nou Camp tomorrow morning (Singapore time), on the back of a goalless draw at home to Slavia Prague earlier this month.

Dortmund hope goalscoring defender Achraf Hakimi will again be their Champions League "weapon" to shoot down Barca and relieve pressure on under-fire coach Lucien Favre.

With two group games left, a last-16 place is still firmly in the hands of the Germans, who sit a point behind Group E leaders Barcelona, thanks to Hakimi's two goals in a 3-2 home win over Inter Milan three weeks ago.

However, dreadful Bundesliga results leave Favre needing a good performance in Barcelona to safeguard his job, putting the onus on Hakimi and his teammates to turn things around. - AFP, REUTERS