Barcelona kept the title race alive in La Liga on Sunday after comprehensively defeating Villarreal 4-1 away from home, with an own goal from Pau Torres being added to by goals from Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann, and Ansu Fati.
The match represented a return to form for Griezmann, who has come under increasing criticism for his ineffectual outings since the turn of the year in particular.
After being given just a few moments off the bench against former club Atletico, he started against Villarreal, and immediately looked eager to prove a point.
What was Griezmann's overall display like?
📷 Match Snapshot
Throughout the first half, it was clear that Griezmann looked sharper than in previous matches and, crucially, a lot more confident.
Villarreal attempted to catch Barca on the break on numerous occasions, but all that really served up was increased space for the Catalan side to operate. Griezmann, Suarez and Lionel Messi flourished in the added freedom.
⚽ ⏱️ 45' By this point the scoreline was at 2-1, with Messi and Griezmann already displaying their cohesion with a few neat flicks and passes to each other in the final third. The latest would lead to a goal as the Argentine cleverly backheeled the ball into the path of Griezmann, who sent an outrageous chipped finish over the keeper from the edge of the area.
A lack of confidence certainly wasn't evident with this finish and thereafter, the Frenchman actually looked to be enjoying himself, which has been a rare sight since his big-money move from Atletico.
He enjoyed 56 touches in the match before being subbed, and completed a fantastic 44/46 passes to team-mates for a completion rate of 96%.
Messi would emerge as the Man of the Match after earning a 9.4 FC Rating following his two assists.
〽️ Rating Week-on-Week
Griezmann did make appearances against Atletico and Celta but didn't have the opportunity to do anything with so little time so we'll look back to his performance against Athletic.
There, he recorded a 7.0 FC Rating, with the performance against Villarreal and his fabulous goal bumping him up to a 8.0 FC Rating which is his highest score since the beginning of December.
🗝️ Key Stats
Griezmann match stats
|Touches In Box||4|
|Final Third Passes||13|
Is this increase in performance coming too late for Griezmann and Barcelona?
We are entering the business end of the season which is, of course, a good time for the Frenchman to embark on a better run of form, but with Real Madrid currently holding a four-point lead at the top of the table perhaps the damage has already been done.
However, Griezmann and Barcelona can take heart from the fact they will at least avoid criticism this week which will aid their preparations for the derby against Espanyol.
Quique Setien, though his team were given plenty of freedom to do so by the hosts, may have found a system which can accommodate both players, which may go some way to salvaging Griezmann's below-par start to his Barca career.