Koeman Explains Why He Benched Griezmann Against Huesca

Antoine Griezmann


Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman explained why he left Antoine Griezmann out of his starting XI for Sunday’s La Liga match against Huesca.

The World Cup winner was named on the bench and only featured for the final nine minutes as Barcelona ran out 1-0 winners in their first game of 2021 at El Alcoraz.

Koeman spoke about his team selection after the match and played down his decision to omit Griezmann, as reported by Marca.

I trust every player in our squad, but if we choose to have three central midfielders, there’s room for three forwards. With Leo, we went for someone who gets in behind more like Dembele and we have to choose between Martin or Antoine up front.

Martin did well. He’s the No.9 we need in these types of games but leaving Griezmann on the bench means nothing. We have lots of games and we need every player.

[Dembele] is a player we need because we’re missing Ansu Fati, who is also a striker who can play out wide. He gets in behind the opposition, he’s good one-on-one… It’s always important to have one who gets in behind to take advantage of the quality of Leo and the midfielders.

Martin Braithwaite started in attack alongside Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele, while Griezmann cut a dejected figure as he watched his team-mates prepare for the game ahead of kick-off.

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Will Griezmann Return Against Athletic?

Barcelona return to action on Wednesday against Athletic Bilbao. The Catalan giants were beaten 1-0 on their last visit to San Mames in February, going down 1-0 thanks to a late Inaki Williams winner in the Copa del Rey.

Athletic beat Elche 1-0 on Sunday and promptly announced they had parted ways with coach Gaizka Garitano. The Basque club subsequently confirmed they have reached agreement with former Valencia coach Marcelino to take over.

It’s not clear if Griezmann will return against Athletic or if Koeman will continue to keep faith with Braithwaite in the Barcelona attack. Messi will surely lead the team out again, while Koeman’s post-match comments suggest Dembele could continue.

Both Griezmann and Braithwaite have scored five goals for Barca this season, although the Frenchman has hit something of a drought. Griezmann is currently on a run of seven games without a goal for the Catalan giants.

Griezmann Still Struggling at Barcelona

Yet it’s not a complete surprise to see Griezmann struggling at Barcelona. The Frenchman has failed to consistently impress since signing for the club from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2019.

Barca splashed out €120 million to bring in the World Cup winner after activating his release clause but are yet to see value for money. Griezmann scored nine goals in La Liga last season and has only managed three in the Spanish top flight in 2020-21.

The Frenchman was expected to kick on this season, particularly after the departure of Luis Suarez and the arrival of Koeman as coach. Yet it’s not happened for the 29-year-old, and he continues to look ill-suited to life at Barca.

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