Where has it all gone wrong for Antoinne Griezmann at Barcelona?
- This article analyzes Antoine Griezmann's underperformance this season.
Antoine Griezmann joined Barcelona from Atletico Madrid over the summer. The expectations around the Frenchman were extremely high given his exploits for the Los Rojiblancos with whom he reached a Champions League final and won the Europa League.
Fast forward to the second half of the season and Griezmann is yet to reach a double-digit tally of goals this season. He has just seven goals in the La Liga and has largely been a peripheral figure at the Camp Nou.
Here is a look at why Griezmann is struggling at Barcelona
What do the stats say?
While the above images compare a full season at Atletico to just half a season at Barcelona, certain trends are clearly visible. For one, Griezmann is shooting less from outside the box. Most of his high probability chances are inside the box this year while for Atletico, he had to be more clinical.
His Expected Goals for the La Liga is at 5.6 and goal tally is seven indicating a slight overperformance which is a bit worrying. Griezmann has actually not crossed the 20-goal mark in over three seasons but is showing few indications of reaching those levels at the moment. Expected Goals are a reliable marker of how a player is performing by taking into account a variety of factors behind the tangible stats.
Similarly, his Expected Goals per 90 minutes is currently at 0.28, a significant drop from the 0.41 and 0.52 Goals per 90 of the past two seasons.
Change in position
Griezmann's position at Atletico was designed with him being the focal point of the attack. In his role as a second striker, the Frenchman was paired with a defensive forward who would be more involved in winning physical battles and bringing his teammates into the game. Griezmann would linger around the other forward, waiting to pounce on the second balls and inches of space his teammate would force the opposition to concede.
The Barcelona forward has very rarely played up top on his own and even when doing so, has been rather ineffective. Even at Sociedad, he played as a winger or an inside forward cutting in from the right-wing.
In the above images, we can see that Griezmann's overall contributions have decreased after his move. Despite the small sample size for this year, he is taking very few shots, is involved less in the playmaking as seen with a drop in the number of key passes per game as well as Expected Assists per 90. There is a slight but rather insignificant increase in his contribution to the buildup.
At Barcelona, Griezmann's role has been rather unclear. Considering Barcelona's starting eleven is largely built around Lionel Messi's brilliance, there is little room for another floating forward. Amidst their various issues this season, Barcelona have also lacked a proper structure. Griezmann and Messi's roles frequently overlap during the course of a game.
It is perfectly normal for a player to take time to adapt to a new side. Even the best players have struggled in the past after moving across leagues or within the league itself. Griezmann certainly does deserve the time he needs to adapt to the change of environment. Most importantly, the philosophies at Atletico Madrid and Barcelona are miles apart. Diego Simeone's Atletico always have a 'defend first' mindset where creativity is limited and scoring goals is heavily dependant on clinical finishing. Ironically, Atletico are having an extremely poor season themselves, struggling to score goals at all.
However, in Barcelona, the idea is to always dominate the opponent, keep possession and engage in positional play. As controversial as it may seem, Griezmann is not the best fit for such a system. This does not mean he cannot adapt himself to the same. Given the years of training under Simeone and playing for two sides who rarely dominate possession as Barcelona do, the French forward would require a longer adaptation period if he is to make a bigger impact at Barcelona.
Published 11 Feb 2020, 19:16 IST