Antoine Griezmann will be heaving a huge sigh of relief this week after notching his first La Liga goals for Atletico Madrid in the 4-2 demolition of Cordoba at Vicente Calderon. The 23-year-old was signed from Real Sociedad in the summer for a fee believed to be close to €30m, and since then has come under increasing pressure to deliver the goods for Diego Simeone’s men.
Having earned the tag of the player with most attempts on goal without finding the back of the net in the Primera this season, Griezmann will feel as if a massive weight has been lifted off his young shoulders. That is despite him already opening his Champions League account with Los Rojiblancos after netting against Malmo and Olympiacos.
Both of his goals against Cordoba came at crucial moments, the first arriving on the stroke of half-time when his shot from inside the box took a deflection to give his side the lead. The visitors equalised eight minutes after the break through Nabil Ghilas, only for the Frenchman to restore Atleti’s advantage just four minutes later, his powerful near post header proving too hot for goalkeeper Carlos to handle and helping him to 40 EuroFantasyLeague points for the match.
In recent weeks boss Simeone has been asking Griezmann to contribute more to the team, particularly in his defensive duties, and it was an area in which he undoubtedly responded against Cordoba.
On the other hand, the Argentine has not lacked faith in Griezmann this term as he has taken part in all Atleti’s 15 games so far – 10 in La Liga, three Champions League matches and two Supercopa de Espana ties – although he has yet to complete 90 minutes in any of them and was given a breather 14 minutes from time against the Andalusians.
Nonetheless, Simeone has also been quick to acknowledge the Macon-born player has faced a giant leap in responsibility since joining the Spanish champions, despite notching a best-ever haul of 16 League goals with Real Sociedad last year. In addition, the Atleti boss sees him as more effective in an inside role rather than operating out wide as he did with his former club, and there are signs he is now starting to adapt to what is required of him in Madrid.
Technically sound with a precision left foot, Griezmann is tricky and direct, while he is also a threat in the air, although if there is any criticism of him it is that at times he tends to drift in and out of games and fails to grasp them by the scruff of the neck.
Even so, his brace on Saturday is sure to have fired his confidence since it ended a sequence of 13 consecutive League games without hitting the target, a run that dates back to Week 33 of last season when he netted for the Txuri-urdin against Celta Vigo.
Although he now needs to add more consistency to his game, there is a feeling around the Calderon that the best is yet to come from a player who has intimated in the past he models his game on David Silva and David Beckham. If he can incorporate even small elements from both players over the next few months then his star will definitely be in the ascendency.