Griezmann’s great goodbye?

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Both Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid captain Gabi spoke about Griezmann after he had a superb game against Celta Vigo – one goal and one assist. Atleti weren’t at their best but when that happens you absolutely need someone of Griezmann’s quality to make the difference – and he did! On the back of the disappointing performance at Barcelona, it was needed.

Simeone and Gabi were asked about Griezmann’s future after the game. Simeone replied, ‘We have him here and tomorrow’s another day’, while Gabi said that all he was asking of Griezmann was to give everything to the team while he is at Madrid.

As I’ve been saying all along, Atletico Madrid think he is going to leave for Barcelona and Gabi’s comments were a way of ensuring Griezmann remained committed.

Even though Atleti think Griezmann is leaving, they will still put an offer on the table for him to renew his contract. They will offer more but they know that probably won’t be enough to convince him.

Ronaldo or Messi?

I’ve got a question for you, the readers. Who would you rather have in your team – Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? Let me argue the case for both.

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Ronaldo is doing what he did last year, scoring for fun – 17 goals in 10 games – having preserved energy at the start of this season. His goals have everyone in the team thinking they can beat anybody right now, and are perhaps firing Real Madrid to a third-straight Champions League title.

But the team needed him and his goals earlier in the season. He scored only 16 from August to January, during which Barcelona opened up their current 15-point lead in the league.

Contrast that to Messi. He’s scored one less goal than Ronaldo but has needed seven more games to do so. He has appeared throughout the season, though, filling in gaps while Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele have been adapting and Andres Iniesta has been injured.

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But will Messi be able to maintain this pace right until the end of the season? There have been seasons where the Barcelona have demanded so much of him that he has burnt out at the end. It’s a question mark for sure, Messi may have actively rested during games and therefore be ready for the end of the season.

So, given the current set of circumstances, who would you rather have – Ronaldo or Messi? A Messi, of course, who has scored or assisted more than 50 per cent of the goals for the team.

The best of Dembele

We saw the best Ousmane Dembele we’ve seen this season against Malaga, that was partly down to the fact that Messi – who missed the game following the birth of his third child – wasn’t there. Dembele had more freedom to roam, to come into central positions and take on players one on one. He’s making better decisions and has added a depth to the team.

But, generally, the style of Barcelona without Messi was pushed in that direction – direct passes that beat lines of pressure and players running into space. With Iniesta and Messi in the team, Barcelona look to control games – something Ernesto Valverde prefers as it gets the best out of Messi – and that is where the Frenchman struggles as he needs space to do his thing and use his pace.

Without Messi it benefits the likes of Dembele and Coutinho. Dembele was particularly good, he ran into space and tried to dribble past defenders, got more decisions right than wrong. He is growing and could be a contender to make an impact against Chelsea.

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