Head coach Quique Setien in Barcelona admitted that playing Antoine Griezmann is difficult without “destabilizing” the team as he threw into further doubt the future of the Frenchman.
Griezmann was a 90th-minute substitute for the former Atletico Madrid team, which on Tuesday won a 2-2 draw to defend Barca’s La Liga champions.
At the start of the season, a €120 million signing from Atletico, Griezmann arrived during a lot of excitement but, the star forward struggled at Camp Nou, where he appeared in recent weeks on the bench against Seville and Athletic Bilbao.
Explaining Griezmann ‘s position on the bench as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Riqui Puig began in the third attack, Setien said: “It’s hard to bring him on without destabilizing the squad.”
Griezmann has scored eight goals in La Liga this season, and 14 in all Barca second-placed competitions.
However, Griezmann hasn’t scored in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie before the coronavirus pandemic in February, following Barca’s 1-1 draw against Napoli.
Setien said: “I understand that it is hard for Griezmann to come on because there is so little time left. I’m going to talk to him tomorrow I’m not going to say sorry because [it’s about] decisions. But I understand that he might feel bad and I feel bad for him because he’s a great and professional person.”
Messi scored his 700th career goal but still dropped more points in the title race as Barca stuttered.
Diego Costa’s own goal of 11th minute had brought Barca ahead eight minutes later before the penalty restored parity for Atletico by Saul Niguez.
Messi converted his five-minute penalty into the second half to celebrate his milestone goal, but another Saul spot-kick – in the 62nd minute – earned Atletico a draw.
Barca is one point behind Real Madrid leaders who, with a win over Getafe on Thursday, will push four as Setien’s pressure mounts.