Ahead of Sunday's Madrid derby (16:15, CEST), Antoine Griezmann is arguably playing his best football since joining Atlético, and his 24 goals this campaign and general play has turned heads even further around Europe. This scenario seemed unlikely at the beginning of the season when all did not seem well - the Frenchman was booed in the first Madrid derby at the Wanda, back in November.
Diego Costa's presence
These poor performances all pointed to a departure in the summer for the Atlético striker, with a number of Europe's big clubs lining up. However, one factor has had a more positive effect than any other: "Everything has improved since Diego (Costa) came in. He's really helped," Griezmann told AS on Thursday. "He keeps the defenders busy so I have a little more freedom to try things on the pitch because I'm not always under pressure to always be in and around the opposition's box".
The Madrid derby
The Frenchman also admitted that the training he did in the summer prepared him "really well", physically, for the season ahead, and he is now reaping the rewards at the business end of the season and with the World Cup in Russia looming. However, before then he was keen to stress the focus was firmly on Sunday's game and that his side would be going all out to win the derby at the Santiago Bernabéu. "The most important thing is not so much the rival but the chance to make sure we finish second in the table," he added.