When Antoine Griezmann was announced as a Barcelona player, it indicated a heavy relief for the La Liga Champions. After unsuccessful summers of chasing the Frenchman, they finally got their target. Moreso, Griezmann wasn’t just “another” new signing. As an already established world-class forward who was also well proven in the La Liga, many tipped him to bolster the Barcelona forward line that was looking “overstaffed” with a luxury of options including the likes of Philippe Coutinho (at the time) and Ousmane Dembele.
With Coutinho then getting loaned out to Bayern Munich, the stage was easily set for Griezmann to make his big-money signing reap fruits. It’s only September and a cloud of debate has emerged over his “worth” at the club. If anything, the impressive performance by Dembele in Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Sevilla showed just how much Griezmann has lacked a lot of extra edge to his game recently.
Prior to the Sevilla game, Griezmann had started all of Barcelona’s nine games so far in 2019-20 (Transfermarkt) but was substituted in the last two of those (against Getafe and Inter Milan) and was relegated to the bench for the visit of Sevilla on Sunday.
And while it may be that the French forward is tired and needed a rest, the fact is that he was not really missed as Valverde’s side comfortably beat Sevilla and also racked up the goals in his absence.
The return of Dembele will now see Griezmann’s performances further scrutinized and might ultimately play a part in less game time for the former Atletico man.
While Dembele has also failed to hit his full potentials at Barcelona, his talents remain unquestionable. Squeezing past players for fun and making darting runs down the flanks. When he adds goals to his armoury, he more than justifies his place and such a return to form spells danger for Antoine Griezmann.
The €120 million summer signing from Atletico Madrid has struggled so far for Barca, having played mostly out on the left, and may see his opportunities in the centre restricted by the form of Suarez, who scored a brilliant overhead kick to open the scoring on Sunday.
Griezmann has had his moments this season, but has disappointed for large parts of the campaign.
Perhaps that could be attributed to having been played out of position of course, because there’s little doubt that his countryman (Dembele) is a better fit out wide. Furthermore, his associative play with Messi and Suarez isn’t as forced as Greizmann’s has become at times.
The issue for Ernesto Valverde moving forward is whether Dembele can keep his head up and display consistent performances like the one we saw against Sevilla and make it a more regular occurrence. That’s if the Frenchman can even stay fit in the first place as he’s struggled with injuries literally throughout his career at Barcelona.
And with the El Clasico around the corner on October 26, Dembele’s performance against Sevilla poses the question of whether Barcelona should use the MSD trident or the MSG trident for El Clasico on October 26
However, the red card picked up by Dembele means his availability for the game is now very slim. As per a report by Marca, it’s now suggested that the Frenchman could receive a two-match ban in the La Liga for using “unacceptable” words as stated in the referee’s report.
Three good La Liga wins on the bounce, and a comeback win over Inter Milan in the Champions League, have put an entirely different complexion on things for Barcelona. However, the same good feeling cannot be said for Antoine Griezmann.
With Dembele back, Messi fit again after injury and Ansu Fati an unused substitute on Sunday against Sevilla, Griezmann could now face a fight for his place in the starting XI. With only three goals (Transfermarkt) so far and some indifferent displays, there are no guarantees for the €120m man.