When Antoine Griezmann left Atletico Madrid for Barcelona in 2019, he left a sour taste in the mouth of several Rojiblanco fans. After all, he was a player who they considered their own and whose departure was seen as a betrayal.
When that happened fans outside Wanda Metropolitano vandalised the Frenchman’s plaque brutally and directed nasty chants toward him to show their anger toward the player.
Needless to say, many supporters were not in favour of his return on loan last year and called on the board to reject the move.
In the team’s documentary “Another Way of Living: Atletico de Madrid” released recently on Amazon Prime video, Griezmann can be seen acknowledging the same and giving his thoughts on winning back the support.
“I understand that some people [Atlético Madrid fans] are still not happy with my presence here and I try to work at 10,000% to turn that around, and I’m in the process of trying to make people fall in love with me again.”
Later in the documentary, he also explained the butterflies in his stomach when he completed his return to the Metropolitano and said that he could not sleep that night.
“From 10:00 PM until 12:00 AM, when the deal was sealed, I was in bed feeling every possible emotion. And finally, I screamed with joy at 12:01 AM. I was very happy.”
While he has been in good form this season, Griezmann finds himself in a complicated situation. Los Rojiblancos do not intend to activate the purchase clause on his loan and have been playing him only after the 60th minute to ensure that he does not meet the required time clause.
Barcelona are preparing legal action against the Madrid-based side, but Atletico are confident that they will come out on top in court.
Atletico Madrid midfielder on the derby against Real Madrid: “Very difficult to beat them”
Following a 1-1 draw in their Champions League opener against Lazio, Atletico Madrid will shift all their attention to La Liga, as they brace themselves for the derby against Real Madrid this weekend.
Heading into this game, Atleti midfielder Marcos Llorente spoke about Real Madrid’s quality and Atletico Madrid’s chances of squeezing all three points from this iconic derby.
Llorente on Madrid derby
“The sensations are good. The team is very good, the other day we played a great game despite ending up drawing. I really think that the team did a great job that must be maintained for this match,” Llorente said in an interview with Diario AS.
When asked whether or not Real Madrid being tagged as favourites could aid Atleti, the midfielder said, “Honestly, it neither motivates me nor demotivates me. We simply have to do what we work on during the week, what the coach asks of us.”
Llorente stressed the importance of the game, adding, “It is a great rival we have in front of us, they are having a very good start to the season and that motivates me and everyone to try to play a good game.”
“Real Madrid is a great club, they have great players and it is very difficult to beat them. I think we have competed, we have also achieved several draws, but in the end, either you go out one hundred percent and do things very, very well or it is difficult to beat them,” he added.
A former member of the Real Madrid youth academy, Llorente joined Atletico Madrid in 2019. Since then, he has racked up over 150 competitive appearances for Los Colchoneros.
Llorente, though, said he feels no sense of vindication when he performs well against his former team.
“No. In the end, it’s been many years since I left there and I’m at Atlético. Perhaps in the first years, those types of feelings and sensations can arise, but today they no longer do,” he said.
Llorente on Vinicius, Koke & Bellingham
The Atletico Madrid star went on to talk about other aspects of the game, including the fact that his team had one less player every time they faced Real Madrid last season.
“I have zero worries. These are things that are not in our remit, that escape our hands. We play football, the referees referee and those who have to decide decide,” he said.
Llorente, in fact, said that the return of Koke could be a real boost for Atleti. “It is always good that Koke is with us, both on the field and in the day-to-day life of the game,” he said.
“Beyond the grass. The support he gives, the advice he gives us, his experience. it is always important to have him and it is great news that he is already training with us,” he added.
Talking about the absence of Vinicius Junior and the form of Jude Bellingham, Llorente said, “Well, you have to be careful with everyone. All Real Madrid players are very good and can make a difference at any moment of the game. Bellingham is having a great start and we have to take that into account and be very focused.”
Finally, Marcos Llorente put out a message for all the Atletico Madrid fans, claiming their support ahead of this crucial encounter this weekend.
“It will be a full house as always. We don’t have to tell them anything, they know the importance of this match for Atlético, we know that they never fail, they are always supporting us and we count on them,” he said.