Barcelona

'Difficult to play Griezmann without destabilising Barcelona'

Antoine Griezmann was a 90th-minute substitute against former team Atlético Madrid and Quique Setién discussed his decision.

'Difficult to play Griezmann without destabilising Barcelona'
ALBERT GEA REUTERS

Barcelona head coach Quique Setién admitted it is difficult to play Antoine Griezmann without "destabilising" the team as he threw the Frenchman's future into further doubt.

Griezmann was a 90th-minute substitute against former team Atlético Madrid, who earned a 2-2 draw away to defending LaLiga champions Barça on Tuesday.

A €120million signing from Atlético at the start of the season, Griezmann arrived amid much hype but the star forward has struggled at Camp Nou, where he has started on the bench against Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao in recent weeks.

Explaining Griezmann's place on the bench as Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Riqui Puig started in the attacking third, Setién said: "It's difficult to put him on without destabilising the team.

Griezmann has scored eight LaLiga goals this season and 14 across all competitions for second-placed Barcelolna.

However, Griezmann has not scored since Barça's 1-1 draw against Napoli in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie prior to the coronavirus pandemic in February.

"I understand it's tough for Griezmann to come on when so little time left. I will speak with him tomorrow [Wednesday], I won't say sorry because [it's about] decisions.

"But I understand he may feel bad and I feel bad for him because he's a great person and professional."

Messi scored his 700th career goal but stuttering Barça still dropped more points in the title race.

Diego Costa's 11th-minute own goal had put Barcelona ahead before Saúl Ñíguez's penalty restored parity for Atlético eight minutes later.

Messi converted a penalty of his own five minutes into the second half to celebrate his landmark goal, but another Saul spot-kick – in the 62nd minute – secured a draw for Atlético.

Barça are one point behind leaders Real Madrid, who can move four clear with victory over Getafe on Thursday, as pressure mounts on Setién.

However, under-fire Barcelona boss Setién said: "I don't feel at all under threat.

"It's a shame. We're having more and more difficulties. Leaving these points behind means we're moving further away from the title. But we have to keep working and Atlético are a good team."