A tale of revenge: Suarez and Griezmann prepare for Barca
Barcelona are in full meltdown mode and face a trip to the Wanda Metropolitano at the worst possible time… outcasts Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann could hammer yet another nail into Ronald Koeman’s coffin
- Barcelona travel to the Wanda Metropolitano this weekend to face Atletico
- The Catalan side are in crisis and have won just three league games this season
- Atletico can go joint top of LaLiga with Real Madrid if they win the home match
- Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann will be going up against their former club
To look up the definition of ‘football crisis’ right now, one would be greeted with a picture of Ronald Koeman toiling on the touchline, palm to his face and a dark, solemn look.
It’s no exaggeration to say this is the worst situation Barcelona football club have been in for some time… and it could yet get much worse.
Following a summer of well documented chaos, Barca had no option but to reveal to the world their dire state of mismanagement and near financial ruin behind the scenes.
Perhaps the issue was easy to gloss over in years gone by, but with the side-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic hitting most teams for six, Barca found themselves in a position where it was literally impossible to re-sign club legend Lionel Messi, even with a 50 per cent pay cut.
Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann could come back to bite Barcelona in the Spanish capital
And so with Messi’s exit the team have looked shell-shocked ever since. Only three victories have arrived in LaLiga from six matches, and the beginning to the Champions League campaign doesn’t even bear talking about.
Indeed, Koeman is under the burner like never before. For the first time in the club’s history they have lost their opening two European matches – each by 3-0 scorelines – and face the real possibility of finishing bottom of Group E.
Although many assumed this could be Koeman’s last match in charge if they go on to lose, the Dutchman received the *dreaded vote of confidence* from president Joan Laporta on Saturday, who insisted he won’t sack the manager, regardless of the result against Atletico.
That said, Koeman is almost certainly hanging out of the exit door, and the football schedule has served up perhaps the most cruel fixture imaginable.
On Saturday night Koeman and his Barcelona side will travel to the Wanda Metropolitano to face reigning champions Atletico Madrid.
Why is this game so pivotal? Well, a large part of Atletico’s success last season was in part due to Barca’s actions.
At the start of last season, with Barca transfixed on shifting big earners off the wage bill to prepare for a new era, Luis Suarez was deemed to be an ageing star and surplus to requirements.
Both players were deemed surplus to requirement at the Nou Camp and Atleti have benefitted
The harsh manner in which he was pushed out of the exit door put the nose of Messi firmly out of joint, given the Uruguayan was his closest friend at the club.
Despite an initial reluctance, Barca sanctioned a move to Atletico with the thinly veiled hope that Suarez’s best days were behind him and he would not significantly strengthen their rivals.
How wrong they were.
Now, the degree of which this process was Koeman’s willing is up for debate, but regardless the Dutchman will go down as the boss who allowed one of the club’s all-time greatest talents to propel a rival to glory.
It is therefore rather fitting that his judgement day fixture comes against Atleti, at perhaps the worst possible moment for the Catalan club.
Suarez will know he can inflict a near-fatal blow to Koeman’s reign as Barca boss on Saturday, though that of course will not be the main objective.
Atleti have their mind completely set on retaining their title this season and establishing themselves as a regular player in the contest for LaLiga.
In years gone by the men in red and white stripes have always been a top draw in Spain under Diego Simeone, yet always succumb to the might of Barca and Madrid when it comes to trophies.
Ronald Koeman is very much in crisis territory with Barcelona looking a shell of themselves
Atleti enter the match off the back of a shock 1-0 victory over Alaves which dealt something of a hammer blow to their early title hopes.
As the club’s official social media channels tweeted out the final scoreline in the aftermath of the match, a series of tweets from Barcelona supporters quickly returned fire – poking fun at the result and claiming that perhaps it is not only the Nou Camp experiencing crisis.
Simeone’s men now have the opportunity to silence fans of a Catalonian persuasion entirely, and get firmly back on track with hunting down Real Madrid at the top.
It was assumed that Barca learned from the ill-advised sanctioning of Suarez’s move to the Nou Camp, and yet the process looked to happen all over again with a certain Antoine Griezmann.
Desperately needing to get the Frenchman and his reported £500,000-per-week wages off the books, Barca went as far as to personally contact Atleti to discover if there was an interest to bring Griezmann home.
The Madrid side showed an immediate willing and it was reported in Spain that Griezmann was only willing to depart the Nou Camp for his former club.
Of course, this went down terribly with Atleti’s loyal fanbase.
Griezmann has a lot of making up to do, but silencing Barca would make for the perfect start
Only a few seasons ago Griezmann had produced his own mini-series in which cameras documented his ‘decision.’
The striker made a huge song and dance around the build-up of whether he would finally sign for Barca given the club had been following him for years.
Griezmann made a highly overdramatic gesture to state he would indeed be remaining with Atleti… only to then go and sign for Barca just a year later.
It boiled the blood of supporters, and the vast majority were not in the slightest willing to welcome him back.
The largely failed stint of the Frenchman alongside Messi at Barca was seen as evidence that Ateltico had got rid at the correct time.
Now, however, Griezmann is back and is finally up and running with the goals, after hitting a sublime volley against AC Milan during the midweek Champions League action.
Atleti won the game in the dying moments, despite having a man sent off, and Griezmann’s confidence has elevated as a result.
Koeman’s job is hanging by a thread following two opening defeats in the Champions League
After returning to the club on deadline day Griezmann made a promise to supporters to right his many wrongs and do his bit to keep Atletico as the dominant team in Spain.
There is no better place to start coming good on those words than the Wanda on Saturday. Revenge could be the cold dish on the menu, and Koeman may well be dining out for the last time.
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