Barcelona will lock horns with Atletico Madrid in La Liga later this week and it will be a special occasion for a certain Antoine Griezmann as he returns to Spotify Camp Nou for the first time since his transfer to the Rojiblancos was made permanent.
Barcelona signed Griezmann from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2019, spending a massive €120 million on his capture. However, the French forward endured a difficult first year in Catalonia, as he was often in and out of the team under then-manager Ernesto Valverde.
When he did play, Griezmann was usually deployed on the left flank, a position he was not too familiar with. It affected his form and contributed to a sub-par debut season in the Blaugrana colours.
The Frenchman fared better in his second year as a Barcelona player as the team went on to win the Copa del Rey under Ronald Koeman. However, severe financial troubles meant that Griezmann was allowed to return to Atletico on a two-year loan in 2021.
After some drama in the early parts of the ongoing season, the Rojiblancos signed Griezmann permanently in a deal worth €24 million including add-ons.
As he gears up to return to Spotify Camp Nou to face Barcelona on Sunday, Griezmann admitted that his first year with the Catalans was very complicated, but he enjoyed his second season as a Blaugrana.
Speaking to DAZN (h/t Mundo Deportivo), he said: “It was a complicated first year, as a substitute, not playing, another system, another position… I had to get used to all that.”
“I liked my second year, I enjoyed it,” Griezmann added.
The 32-year-old also discussed Atletico Madrid’s good form heading into Sunday’s contest. The Rojiblancos are on a 13-game unbeaten run in La Liga, winning each of their last six.
“Now we’re on another run and we have to enjoy what we have. We’ve got a great game ahead of us, we’ll try to go there and win and get the three points,” he said.
Griezmann will be looking to do some damage to his former team on Sunday.
Another ex-Barcelona forward who now plays for Atletico Madrid, Memphis Depay, also had revenge on his mind heading into the game. But the Dutchman’s involvement remains uncertain as he continues to recover from an injury.
Having been held to two consecutive goalless draws by Girona and Getafe, Barça will want to bounce back to winning ways on Sunday against Diego Simeone’s men.