They keys to Antoine Griezmann's return to form at FC Barcelona
The Frenchman has been in good form since the turn of year, contributing goals and assists
Griezmann is finally Griezmann. Ronald Koeman's news system has benefitted Barça and helped a number of players improve, including the Frenchman.
He didn't have a place when the Dutch coach turned to 3-5-2 at first, but in recent games, with Dembele as a No.9 and Sergiño Dest and Jordi Alba as wing backs, he's found a central role alongside Messi behind Dembele. Just as he likes. It's a position and a moment of form which has spilled into the international break with France. His golazo against Ukraine, his 34th for his country, took him level with Trezeguet, leaving him behind Platini, Giroud and Thierry Henry.
No has denied his work rate and sacrifice but more is demanded from a forward at Barcelona. And Griezmann's involvement in Barça's play and in the final third has multiplied. It's seen perfectly in the number of completed passes. His average across the season is 39 per game. But if we analyse that last three matches, the average is 53: 55 against PSG, 51 against Huesca and 52 against Real Sociedad. And if we add in the France game, it rises to 57, as he completed 69 passes vs. Ukraine.
Griezmann is a goal scorer, too, although at Barça he's not always been at his best. One of the sticks used to beat him is that he needs a lot of chances to score and that his ration of goals to minutes is not what was expected from a world champion. It's true that he's scored a goal every 214 minutes but that's also improved recently.
The ex-Atletico Madrid man has scored in his last three appearances: against Huesca at Camp Nou, a golazo from outside the box; at Anoeta against his old side La Real, showing predatory instinct inside the area; and then for France in midweek.
In his first season at Camp Nou, Griezmann scored 15 times in 48 games and 3,500 minutes. A poor record. In the current season, he's also struggled, but with 11 games to go (10 in the league and the Copa del Rey final) he's already within one goal of last season's return. He has scored 14 times across 3,000 minutes spread across 40 games.
It's worth highlighting that he's always been a specialist in opening the scoring, which is often the key goal. Last season he managed it on six occasions. In 2020-21 those numbers have dropped. Before Sunday it was only twice, but he led the way against La Real, recovering the 'tradition'. Barça scored six in the end but that was because Griezmann's goal lured the home side out.
However, it's creatively where he's improved the most. Last season, he only set up four goals and in his second season has already returned 11. Seven more than last season already. And more than the 10 he set up in his final season at Atletico.
Seven players have received assists from Griezmann. Messi has benefitted the most, set up four times by the Frenchman, while Alba (2), Dembele, Coutinho, Junior, Pique and Frenkie de Jong have also been picked out.
Griezmann's been slowly improving, the numbers show as much and he's not benefitting from the new system. He's returned to the cause.
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