Ernesto Valverde Insists Antoine Griezmann Is Ready Hostile Reception in Atletico Madrid Return

?Ernesto Valverde has insisted that Antoine Griezmann will be ready for what is set to be an extremely hostile environment at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Sunday evening.

The Frenchman returns to Atletico after leaving the club for a massive fee of £110m in the summer, and it is likely that he will be on the receiving end of a lot of stick from fans.

Speaking to the press, Valverde said (via ?Mundo Deportivo): “Whatever you say, I can’t change how people behave with Griezmann. He left there, some will be valued and others not. We are used to harsh environments.”

Antoine Griezmann

The ?Barca manager also spoke about how he expects the game to play out, while also revealing how ?Ousmane Dembélé is feeling after his thigh injury which ruled him out for 10 weeks.

“In both games in the Metropolitano, ?Atlético went ahead and we had to go back and draw,” he said. “The two games followed the same pattern, we dominated, but they hurt us on the break. It is possible that the script is repeated. They defend well, together, but when they attack they hurt many players. It will be exciting.

“Atletico forces mistakes from you a lot with high pressure and we will need some patience to look for holes and cover what we have behind. They will run a lot, we will have to do it and the technical part will also be important.

“The importance of the game is for two reasons, first to regain the leadership and then for the morale we will have from here until the end of the year. Whoever wins will experience a very important high. It is a game in which you have to play [for] it.”

Ousmane Dembele

On Dembélé“I have spoken with Dembélé, now he is calmer. After the game he was very affected. It is a very important loss for us because of the player he is and for the time he will be out. He was fine, emotionally very upset because he had been working well. 

“It was hard for him to get used to Barça, but now he was training well. We will have players from the subsidiary, who have done well when we called them “

Valverde was also asked about the upcoming Ballon d’Or, and his view on the award and who should win it. He responded: “I don’t follow the Golden Ball galas a lot because they are quite long. If you give it to the best, you give it to ?Messi and everything is solved”.

Barca take on Atletico on Sunday at 20:00, and a win for Valverde’s men will mean that they leapfrog Real Madrid to top spot in La Liga.

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