For much of Jose Mourinho’s first season at Manchester United, Antoine Griezmann has been billed as the poster-boy signing to truly mark the Portuguese’s tenure as Red Devils boss, reportedly requiring an indulgently expensive £155million package to bring him to Old Trafford and seen as the perfect addition to inject world-class netting prowess to the Red Devils’ unconvincing forward cast.
The France international lit up Euro 2016 last summer and has been nothing short of phenomenal at club level since signing for Atletico Madrid in 2014, going on to notch up 82 goals in 156 appearances across all competitions for the Mattress Makers.
But for such a lofty release clause, you’d expect Griezmann to consistently deliver on the big occasions. And although it would be wrong to suggest a failure to do so has been a recurring trend throughout his career, United fans will have been concerned with the 26-year-old’s performance against Real Madrid in Tuesday night’s Champions League semi-final.
In fairness, Griezmann can only do so much. Atletico were collectively poor at the Bernabeu, struggling to make use of what little of the ball they saw whilst finding themselves continually pinned back by the hosts in a 3-0 victory. They finished up with just 38% possession and four shots on goal.
But considering Real Madrid hadn’t recorded a single clean sheet in the Champions League before last night and have only the fifth-best goals conceded record in La Liga, Griezmann’s inability to impact the match in the final third is a little concerning.
Indeed, Griezmann didn’t have a single effort at goal, failed to complete a single dribble and could only conjure up one chance for his team-mates. He was also dispossessed three times and drew just the one foul – which is disappointing for a counter-attacking outlet away from home in a Champions League semi-final.
Of course, Manchester United’s interest in the 41-cap international won’t be deterred by just one performance; but it did highlight how simply signing Griezmann isn’t the answer to all of the Red Devils’ problems in attack.