Analysis

Barcelona have found Antoine Griezmann's ideal position - on the bench

The Frenchman is an exceptional footballer but as long as Lionel Messi is at the club he will not fit in the system

 
7:00am on Wednesday 21st October 2020
By
Paul Macdonald

Antoine Griezmann said last week that he enjoyed playing for France because coach Didier Deschamps knew his best position.

On Tuesday night, Ronald Koeman may have discovered it too - it's in the stand, and not in the Barcelona team.

It's no real slight on Griezmann's talents as a player. We wrote towards the end of last season how it was doomed from the start, and how he has been asked to a adapt to a style of play which is just too similar to what other players do better.

But against Ferencvaros in the Champions League, more than a few elements of the team clicked into place and the fluidity came from individuals with specific attacking roles in which they excel.

Trincão
AM, M (R) - Barcelona - 20 yrs
63'
6.8
Oct 20, 2020
63Minutes played
4Total shots
1Shots on target
7Touches in box
1Dribbles
42Passes
36Passes completed
61Touches

Trincao is young, is raw, and needs to prove on his decision-making, but he showcased his exceptional close control and ability to pin a defender in position after being given a start by Koeman. On the other flank, Ansu Fati did Fati things - a goal, and an assist as we still need to remind ourselves he is only turning 18 at the end of this month.

And while Philippe Coutinho did well, scoring a neat goal, his replacement is surely the future of the No. 10 position - Pedri. He is just 17 too, but he scored his maiden Barca goal in the second half after a superb assist from Ousmane Dembele.

All the while, Messi looks set up to play with all these young legs around him. He's enjoying it, clearly, revelling in his elder statesman role and Barca supporters, if they can allow themselves a moment away from outrage over president Bartomeu's running of affairs, will by mildly excited at what this attack is beginning to look like.

Ferencvaros played open and expansive football and generally performed to a naïve level for their first outing in the Champions League in nearly 25 years. Barcelona are always, always going to punish teams who play like this, as they did to Villarreal on the opening day of the season in Spain.

But there's no denying that the odd one out here, sitting in the stand (to his credit, clapping the performances of his team-mates), was Griezmann and it's difficult to see where he goes from here.

Ansu Fati
W, AM (L) - Barcelona - 17 yrs
63'
8.3
Oct 20, 2020
63Minutes played
3Total shots
3Shots on target
1Goals
1Assists
6Touches in box
41Passes
37Passes completed

He won't be frozen out - he cost too much money for that - but it's been a year now and with Coutinho also in the mix, there's just no space for what he, the Brazilian and Messi does.

With Messi's future still unclear and we must assume that he will look to leave at the end of the season, it may be shrewd for the Frenchman to wait it out. If Messi does go, there's instantly more options for him at Camp Nou and his career may truly be born.

But as for this season, Barcelona's best XI is beginning to take shape and Griezmann is not in it. Will he ever be?

Barcelona 5-1 Ferencvaros: Player Ratings, Match Stats, Player Stats

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