Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone hailed Antoine Griezmann as a potential 2016 Ballon d’Or winner after two more goals from the France international in Saturday afternoon’s 5-0 La Liga victory at home to Sporting Gijon.
Without mentioning Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, the Colchoneros coach said in his postmatch news conference that Griezmann’s goal-scoring form and consistency made him the best player in Europe so far this year.
“For me, last year Griezmann was the best player in Europe, I have no doubt about what I say,” Simeone said. “He reached the finals of both the Champions League and Euro 2016, scoring many goals, and scored many goals in La Liga too. The consistency he has makes him stronger. I hope he is up there for the Ballon d’Or, as he is in great form, and will get even better if he continues like this.”
Following last weekend’s 4-0 win at Celta Vigo, Atletico have bounced back well from scoring just once as they drew their first two La Liga games of the season against Alaves and Leganes.
“We’ve been making chances in all our games, [Kevin] Gameiro, Fernando [Torres], Griezmann have had pretty clear chances to score,” Simeone said. “That is normal, this is football, it happens. Today, quickly, the team found the way to goal.”
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Simeone had named an unusually attacking XI, with Yannick Carrasco and Nicolas Gaitan on the wings and Gameiro and Griezmann paired as a front two, and said he was happy with how his team had gone on the attack right from the first whistle.
“The truth is we are very happy with the collective performance of the team,” he said. “They interpreted very well the start we needed, surprised them with a lot of people going forward.
“We played that from the start thinking that we would have the chance to find space behind them, with the pace of Griezmann and Gameiro up front. We did that very well. Kevin is doing very well, working hard, makes an effort. He has had chances in all his games. His golazo [wonder-strike] today will give him confidence for sure.”
Having this week cut two years off his current Atletico contract, which now ends in June 2018, Simeone said he was delighted with the positive reception he had received from fans at the Vicente Calderon.
“It was emotional, it confirmed what I feel [for this club],” the formerColchoneros midfielder said. “When someone goes with what their heart wants, they almost never make mistakes. And [I] have a squad and fans who support the decision.”
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Culled from ESPNFC