Vinicius and Griezmann fight in Madrid derby

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Vinicius and Griezmann fight in Madrid derby


Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was named Vinicius Junior the most important player in the world this week – but on Saturday in La Liga he faces another competitor, Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann.

Although the French forward finished second in the World Cup and Atletico are struggling in fourth place, Griezmann is in an interesting position.

Diego Simeone’s side are four points ahead of Real Betis in fifth place and their aim now is to secure a Champions League spot for next season.

Atletico fans watched with envy two weeks ago as the European competition resumed without them, after the elimination of their group and failure even in the Europa League.

A victory Madrid will explain the feeling, but the Rojiblancos have not won the league at Santiago Bernabeu since 2016.

“We have to win, whatever happens, and end our bad run at their ground,” Griezmann said in La Liga.

“We have a goal, and that is to win all our games and then see how it goes.

“We’ve been working hard and moving in the right direction.”

Griezmann joined Atletico after winning in 2014 and moved to Barcelona before they won again in 2020, meaning he has yet to win the league.

With Atletico 18 points behind the leaders that will not change this season, but against Madrid he can provide a powerful attack for his first team – one that is as important as any that to wear a Barcelona shirt.

The forward scored a fine solo goal at the weekend to help Atletico secure a 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao.

“Griezmann is an option for us,” said Simeone. “When he plays well, the team reaches another level.”

Griezmann has been directly involved in 45 percent of Atletico’s league goals, with seven strikes and seven assists, despite only playing 72 percent of the team’s minutes this season.

In the first few months of the campaign he was only used for short periods due to a sale in his Barcelona loan contract that Atletico tried to avoid fulfilling.

Later Simeone’s team bought Griezmann at a discount and they have been very good, although their whole season has been very disappointing.

Madrid, by contrast, remain in the Champions League and Vinicius played a key role with a brace as they beat Liverpool 5-2 at Anfield on Tuesday.

“Today, in my opinion, he is the most important player in world football,” Ancelotti said in midweek.

“Not stopping, dribbling, assists, goals. Now he is the most decisive player, I hope he can continue like that.”

The clash with Atletico brings back recent bad memories for Vinicius, after a picture of the Brazilian was hung from a bridge outside Madrid’s training ground ahead of their Copa del Rey clash in January.

Madrid won that game 3-1, with Vinicius scoring in extra time to seal the victory.

Los Blancos also beat Atletico 2-1 in La Liga in September, a clash marred by racist chants aimed at Vinicius outside the Metropolitano.

Going forward, Rodrygo will be without partner, with David Alaba also injured for Madrid, while Atletico will be without midfielder Rodrigo de Paul.

All eyes will be on Vinicius and Griezmann as the two geniuses try to power their side to victory in the derby.

The Valencia forward, the son of the former Barcelona man, Patrick Kluivert, shone even as Los Che fell to 1-0 at Getafe on Monday. They will need his fire against Real Sociedad on Sunday to start climbing out of the relegation zone.

4 – Rayo Vallecano’s Florian Lejeune is the top scorer in the group

10 – Barcelona’s Ferran Torres hit 10 goals last weekend, more than any other game in any season Liga games this season.

20 – Valencia’s points after 22 games is the second lowest in the club’s history at this stage of the competition.


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