Antoine Griezmann has only one idea in mind: to score 15 new goals in the Atlético Madrid jersey and surpass the record held by the late Luis Aragones, best director in the history of the Madrid club (172 goals). “There were calls, hits. I told my sister (Maud who manages her interests with her lawyer Me Sevan Karian) that we were not moving, to break this record. It took me a while to be reintegrated among the supporters too, so it was not the time to leave,” assured the 2018 world champion, around ten days ago, at a press conference, before the victory of the French team against Ireland (2-0). Returning in disgrace to the Colchoneros in the summer of 2021 after a frustrating stint at Barcelona, “Grizou” took advantage of last season to win back hearts at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Best player of the first half of 2023 in Spain with a remarkable statistical table (15 goals and 16 assists in 38 La Liga matches), the vice-captain of the Blues donned his offensive leader costume to the delight of his mentor, Diego Simeone, who never stopped supporting him. “Griezmann is a noble boy, a team player. When he performs well, the whole team plays differently,” admitted “El Cholo” not without pride last April. Since then, the Argentine coach has no longer removed his protégé from the starting eleven, reinstalled in his preferential position of second striker behind Alvaro Morata or Memphis Depay.
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Author of a goal in the first four La Liga matches, the Madrid number 7 has not yet found his cruising speed since the restart, like his team capable of beating Rayo Vallecano (7-0) then to flow on the pitch of FC Valence (0-3) on Saturday. “Last year it was complicated. There, I'm better. I am not yet 100% but it will come with the sequence of matches,” he promised to the media, on the eve of scoring his 44th national goal on a penalty against Germany (defeat 1 -2) in Dortmund. The international break now over, serious things begin for the Mâconnais and his comrades from Atlético, who will find the little music of the Champions League this Tuesday evening (9 p.m.) on the lawn of Lazio, in Rome. And this a year after terrible disillusionment in the group stages.
Twelve months ago, while Griezmann was content with 50% of the minutes due to a dispute linked to his paid loan (40 million euros) from Barcelona to Atlético, the Rojiblancos had completely missed their C1 campaign , finishing last in a group that was nevertheless affordable with Porto, Bruges and Bayer Leverkusen. This season, again, the 2021 Spanish champion is the favorite of group E alongside Feyenoord (Dutch champion), Celtic Glasgow (Scottish champion) and therefore Maurizio Sarri's Lazio, who awaits him firmly at the Olympic stadium in Rome. The unfortunate double finalist (defeats to rival Madrid in 2014 and 2016) has reached the knockout stage eight times over the last 10 seasons, winning the Europa League (in 2018) as a consolation prize. Even if today it seems a tone below the designated favorites for the 2023-24 edition, Atlético hopes to recover its status as the number 1 scratch abandoned for several years. For this, he will need a great Griezmann, once again flourishing in the role of guide of the Rouge et Blanc.