Antoine Griezmann needs to leave Atletico Madrid if he wants the Ballon d’Or

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Antoine Griezmann has won no individual awards this year which strikes one as being rather odd. Here he is a player that is playmaker for Atletico Madrid who have won the Europa League this year and beat Real Madrid to win the UEFA Super Cup. On top of that he led France in winning the World Cup, but to the voters he bizarrely isn’t even good enough to make the top 3 best in the world.

Griezmann has publicly bemoaned these decisions and it ends up being a fine line for him. For if he keeps on speaking about he will look like a petulant child who didn’t get his rewards, and yet if he keeps quiet he will rightfully feel that he has missed an opportunity to speak out. But why is it then that Griezmann who continues to win trophies, play well, make goals and score them is being ignored when it comes down to winning individual awards?

Let’s go back to last summer when Barcelona entered talks to buy Griezmann from Atletico, Barca being the only realistic club in Spain that could get him, given that he was never going to consider joining Atletico’s rivals Real Madrid. Griezmann at Barcelona, would have been a sight to behold but talks broke down and it is only now that Griezmann has come out and told us why.

The reason was that he didn’t want to be Messi’s lieutenant and play second fiddle to the Argentine great. Griezmann told Canal+, “was it hard to refuse Barca? It was very difficult. You have Barca who wants you, who calls you, who sends messages. But then there is the club where you are, where you are an important player and where they build a project around you, subconsciously, being Messi’s lieutenant may have played a part.But my team-mates and people at the club did everything, they came to talk to me, they increased my salary. They did everything to show that it was my home and that I shouldn’t leave. It was really complicated times, especially for my wife where I woke her up at 3am to talk about it.”

In some ways Griezmann should be applauded for not making the jump to a bigger club where inevitably more trophies would follow. At the same time Atletico are successful in their own right and will always be able to challenge for trophies at least as long as Diego Simeone is in charge of the club.

The problem for Griezmann though is it seems not only do you have to play in Spain to win the big awards but you also have to be either playing for Barcelona or Real Madrid. This is evidenced in the fact that the best players awards have gone only to these two teams since 2008. The last time a player won the trophy from outside of Spain was in 2007 when Kaka won with AC Milan.

So what can Griezmann do, because winning the World Cup wasn’t good enough to be recognised as the best. If not playing for Barca or Real Madrid it seems that his one option is to lead Atletico to another Champions League final, this time winning it. For now Griezmann’s loyalty may have just cost him the best player in the world tag.


Should Real Madrid be worried after Super Cup defeat?

Rarely, if ever, before has a Real Madrid manager faced such a baptism of fire. Taking over at the Santiago Bernabeu is always a tall order. It is one of the most pressurised jobs in the European game, but what Julen Lopetegui has faced this summer is unprecedented. Wedneaday’s defeat in the European Super Cup only added to the pile that is mounting in front of the new Real boss.

Ordinarily, a defeat in the European Super Cup wouldn’t cause much of an impact. It is, after all, a glorified friendly, a curtain raiser to the continental season. But this wasn’t just any European Super Cup for Real Madrid. This was a symbolic European Super Cup against Atletico Madrid.


While this summer has seen chaos at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Zinedine Zidane resigning as manager before the shock sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus, Atletico Madrid have managed to keep their best players (Diego Godin, Antoine Griezmann and Jan Oblak), adding real quality in the transfer market – see Thomas Lemar and Gelson Martins for just two such additions.

Lopetegui wasn’t even Real Madrid’s first choice to replace Zidane. They wanted Mauricio Pochettino, then turned their focus to Julian Nagelsmann after failing to lure the Argentinean from Spurs. Lopetegui was way down the list of candidates given his lack of experience in the club game.

Even at international level, Lopetegui was unproven. He didn’t even get the chance to lead Spain into a major tournament, sacked on the eve of the World Cup after accepting the Real Madrid job. There are those who claim the 51-year-old simply won’t be able to handle the spotlight that will be on from him the very start. He is unprepared for what he is about to face.

What’s more, Real Madrid are a mish-mash of a team on the pitch as well. Ronaldo is gone and that will place more of a burden on the ageing Karim Benzema and the injury prone Gareth Bale to come up with the goods on the big occasion. There is an imbalance to their squad, between youngsters like Marcos Asensio and Dani Ceballos and ageing stars like Luka Modric and Benzema.

Lopetegui has a lot to untangle at Real Madrid and he won’t be given much time to do it. Florentino Perez is desperate for the capital side to establish themselves as the dominant side in Spanish football, but both Atletico Madrid and Barcelona will be strong again this season. There will be no honeymoon period for the former Spain manager in his new job.

Zidane had the aura and personality to mask all the problems that Real Madrid faced in recent years. Lopetegui doesn’t have that. In fact, he is already fighting an uphill battle given all that has happened this summer. Not many solid conclusions can be drawn from the European Super Cup, but the signs are already rather negative.

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La Liga’s Top Midfielders – Angel Correa

Club Atletico de Madrid v RC Deportivo La Coruna - La Liga

Our series of spotlight pieces on the top performing midfielders from the 2017/18 La Liga season sees us take an in depth look at Angel Correa – the second highest point scoring midfielder, whose exploits saw him hit 81 points as he excelled for los Rojiblancos.

Capable of playing on the right of the midfield or in a more advanced position, Correa has often drawn comparison to his countryman Carlos Tevez due to his bullish approach to the game that is accompanied with his good technical ability, low centre of gravity and Continue reading