Why Antoine Griezmann and Joao Felix can take Atletico to the next level and must start against Barcelona

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
 (Standard Sport/LaLigaTV)
(Standard Sport/LaLigaTV)

Atlético Madrid added another gem to their array of attacking talent in Antoine Griezmann, but now Diego Simeone needs to work out how to fit his collection of stars into the team.

After a poor start to the season some tough choices need to be made. It’s time for João Félix and Griezmann to play together, starting this weekend against Barcelona.

So far, it hasn’t quite worked but we know it will take time for Griezmann to fit in to the team. I can already see Simeone putting pressure on him, he knows Griezmann and knows how to get the best out of him.

Griezmann left Atlético Madrid as a superstar. Rejoining two years later, he now needs to regain this status, and in his time away Atlético have won LaLiga. He will need time to settle in and adapt to this squad that were crowned champions last season.

One key factor is Luis Suárez’s presence at Atlético – at Barcelona there wasn’t a great connection between Griezmann and the Uruguayan striker, so he’ll need to adapt to that environment. However, I can see the two linking up well in this Atlético side.

It is funny how these things work out. At the beginning of the summer when Barca were trying hard to get Lionel Messi a new deal, there were already talks of Antoine Griezmann going back to Atlético Madrid and Diego Simeone was really keen on having him back.

Then, when Messi went to PSG it looked certain Griezmann would stay at Barcelona as they didn’t want to lose two stars in one window.

Atlético turned their attention to other options in Dušan Vlahović and Rafa Mir. Neither got across the line, and on deadline day the Catalan giants realised they still needed to offload Griezmann’s wages with Atlético were happy to take him – and Griezmann was happy to leave.

Griezmann would have felt it was crucial to leave Barcelona, not just for the huge opportunity back at Atléti but he would have been the scapegoat for a lot of Barcelona’s problems this season.

There is a huge opportunity at Atlético Madrid, but so far it hasn’t worked – they look a bit too predictable right now, and they aren’t defending as well as we’ve been used to seeing.

For Simeone, it’s great to have so many options in attack but to get the best out of each player is not simple and they need to find the right balance when they face Barcelona at 8pm on Saturday, live on LaLigaTV.

First name on the team sheet is Luis Suárez - he has to play, and Simeone trusts him to score even if he barely touches the ball for an hour. But with him in the

side you need to be closer to the opposition’s goal. He needs to have players around him to help link the play up.

Griezmann is at his best when he’s making runs from deep - with Suárez not able to make those runs I can see him running in behind to provide the space for others. This is what Griezmann does so well for France - he plays with a freedom and in recent fixtures he’s linked up well with Karim Benzema.

To get the best out of Griezmann, you need a Benzema or Suárez for him to link up with, and then someone else close to him who speaks the same football language as him. I want João Félix there, because there can be an understanding like Griezmann developed with Messi last year.

Usually, the ideal system with three forwards is to play a 4-3-3 but with Griezmann and João Félix you won’t have an out-and-out winger to provide that width.

Playing three at the back with wingbacks of Yannick Carrasco on the left and Kieran Trippier or Marcos Llorente on the right to provide the width would suit the attacking trio well – and this is what I’d opt for this season... in most games.

In certain games it’s obvious Simeone won’t be able to set up with three at the back; against Espanyol they were only up against Raúl de Tomás as a lone striker and they got overrun in midfield – so they’ll need to be adaptable this season.

Atlético also signed Matheus Cunha in the summer, and still have Ángel Correa so it’s going to be difficult to keep everyone happy, but for Atlético to make the next step - not only in Spain but in Europe - Simeone’s priority is to find the best position for Griezmann.

Of course they won the league without him, but I see Griezmann being key to the long term success. Finding a system to combine João Félix, Griezmann and Suárez could be deadly – let’s hope we see that sooner rather than later.

Andrea Orlandi hosts ‘LaLiga Tactics’, an in-depth football analysis programme alongside Albert ‘Chapi’ Ferrer, every Wednesday on LaLigaTV, available via Premier Sports and Amazon Prime Video Channels.

Read More

Tottenham vs NS Mura: Europa Conference League preview

West Ham vs Rapid Vienna: Europa League - LIVE!

Tottenham vs NS Mura: Europa Conference League - LIVE!

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting