Antoine Griezmann reveals Atletico Madrid’s struggles after Barcelona exit

Cheeky Antoine Griezmann said he had struggled to adjust to life at Atletico Madrid after joining LaLiga champions Barcelona last summer.

The France international played this week in Atletico’s spectacular 3-1 win away from FC Porto to secure qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League, but he and the team have been inconsistent this season.

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Atletico enter Sunday’s derby with Real Madrid 10 points behind their La Liga rivals.

“To be honest, it was pretty tough for me at the start,” Griezmann told ESPN. “It was a rhythm that I wasn’t used to, a new system for me. I had to take it and mix it with my own style of play.

“Finally, I’m improving and feeling better on the pitch. Qualifying for the next round of the Champions League was very important to me.”

Griezmann, 30, spent five years at Atletico – becoming the club’s fourth-highest goalscorer – before a controversial move to Barcelona in 2019.

After two eventful seasons at Camp Nou, he returned to Wanda Metropolitano in August on a one-season loan, with Atletico under an obligation to make the deal permanent next summer.

His La Liga contribution so far has been inconsistent, scoring three goals in 12 appearances, but he has played a key role in Atletico’s progress from Group B of the Champions League, scoring four times including the first game. during the inevitable clash against Porto.

A victory for Atletico in Sunday’s derby would put them within seven points of leaders Real with one game short.

“In the end, there are three points at stake,” Griezmann said. “I don’t think the number of points they have is really that big of a point, because it’s a very long season, we saw it last year… we still had to fight for the title until in the last game.

“I think we can get something out of it. There is still a lot of league and a lot of games to play.”

Diego Simeone’s side enter the game facing a defensive injury crisis, with four of seven defenders – Stefan Savic, José Maria Gimenez, Kieran Trippier and Sime Vrsaljko – all likely to be absent, while the attacker Luis Suarez is also a doubt.

Real, who also awaits the physical form of the attackers Karim Benzema, have won their last nine matches in all competitions.

“Real Madrid have been one of the best in the world for many years,” Griezmann added. “They’ve always been there. It’s a derby for us so it’s very important for the fans and the club. You play for the pride of each club. It will be a great game to watch.”

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