Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has hailed Antoine Griezmann as “one of the three best players in the world” ahead of the Champions League final.
Griezmann’s reinvention as a centre forward was confirmed in 2015-16 as his 37 goals fired Atleti to within three points of Barcelona in the Primera table and helped the side reach a second European final against Real Madrid in three years, thereby putting him alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in Cholo’s eyes.
[On his centre-back partnership], any two of [Jose Maria] Gimenez, [Stefan] Savic, [Diego] Godin and Lucas [Hernandez],” the Coach said at a Press conference.
“Any of the four would be fine. They’ve all had very good seasons and that speaks [volumes] about the numbers we have defensively.
“As we get closer [to the final], we’ll decide on who are best suited to start the game.
“[On Griezmann’s performance], I hope to see a team effort, not just one individual.
“Individual brilliance derives from the collective, as has been the case for the past four years.
“[On Saul Niguez], I always rate my players from the view of the collective.
“He’s had a great season, with great growth, and he still has a lot of room to keep improving.
“He’s worked hard to get here and hopefully his mental strength means he won’t settle for anything.
“[On Griezmann’s improvement], it’s through hard work, great effort and listening.
“The key to life is listening, and he’s done that. He suffered and improved, and today he’s among the three best players in the world.
“I’m very respectful of all opinions [about Atleti’s style of play].
“Our style is to renew ourselves from the characteristics of our players and enhance their qualities.
“We don’t feel slighted. We’re open to criticism because a lot of it serves to improve us.
“[Yannick Carrasco] is among those who arrived [last summer] and has been the quickest to adapt to what the team need, along with Augusto [Fernandez].
“He’s in very good form and decisive when he players, and he’ll be important in the final for his change of pace, dribbling and goals, whether he plays for 40 or 60 minutes.
“Still, you must show quality [in a final], even if it’s only for a minute. The whole world would pay to play just a minute of any final.”