Barcelona Work for Valverde to do
Barcelona achieved an important victory over Inter in the Champions League on Tuesday night, but that does not erase the Blaugrana‘s problems, most notably the integration of new signing Antoine Griezmann into the side.
The statistics and data from the Inter match is interesting because the Frenchman was unable to connect with either Luis Suarez or Lionel Messi in attack, which is made more poignant by Griezmann‘s admission that he barely speaks to Messi.
His reason was that neither player is very talkative, however the evidence shows that they cannot even talk to each other in a footballing sense. The numbers don’t lie.
On Wednesday night, Griezmann and Messi combined just five times. In fact, the statistics from the first image show that the Frenchman was the player Messi passed to least, without including the defenders.
What is surprising is that Ousmane Dembele came on as a second-half substitute and played barely 24 minutes, yet he was passed to more than what Griezmann had been in the opening 66 minutes.
It is not solely Messi that Griezmann is struggling to connect with as the link-up with Suarez needs to improve greatly.
As seen in the second image, the Uruguayan combined with the former Atletico Madrid star five times, so the same amount Messi and Griezmann linked up, and solving this problem needs to become a priority for Ernesto Valverde.
It is true that the three have not played many minutes together due to Suarez and Messi‘s injuries, yet Valverde spoke of Griezmann‘s immediate integration into the side and, thus far, that has not been the case.
For Barcelona, if they want to win trophies this season, they need Griezmann to be playing at a world-class level, while the support from Frenkie de Jong is also imperative, which is why the Catalans spent 200 million euros on the pair in the summer. They are two players who have to make the difference.
Well, with Messi and Griezmann, they have not been able to turn an exciting partnership on paper into a deadly understanding on the pitch.
They have shown glimpses of being able to do so, like in the match against Villarreal where Messi provided the assist for Griezmann‘s goal, but clearly much more is expected.
In the two matches the pair have played together, Barcelona have picked up four points: one away at Borussia Dortmund, a match the Blaugrana should have lost but for Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and the three against Inter where an inspired Suarez made up for a lacklustre Barcelona.
Messi and Suarez were shown last season that they needed an extra component to go all the way in Europe and that led to Barcelona paying Griezmann‘s release clause, as well as bringing in De Jong, but they need their two new signings to start being more decisive.