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Valverde demands more from Griezmann after Bilbao stun Barca

UK & international sports | Published:

Griezmann was initially deployed wide on the left of the Barcelona attack.

Antoine Griezmann struggled to make an impact

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has called on Antoine Griezmann to be more involved in games after the Catalan giants were beaten 1-0 by Athletic Bilbao in their LaLiga opener.

Griezmann joined Barca from Atletico Madrid for 120million euros over the summer and was handed his debut at San Mames on Friday.

However, he struggled to make an impact on the left of a front three in the first half and did not fare much better when an injury to Luis Suarez saw him shifted into a more central role.

“If he is close to the box he can finish, he moves well, but you have to dominate the game for that to happen,” Valverde said in quotes reported by Sport.

“Putting him on the left, we knew that he will look for goal, but we have a left-back and players who can take the game.

“(However), we expect a lot from all the players and he has to look to get in the game more.”

Barca were without star man Lionel Messi, who is recovering from a calf injury.

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Barcelona were without Lionel Messi in Bilbao
Barcelona were without Lionel Messi in Bilbao (Ian Hodgson/PA)

“We’re not all like him and we have to learn to cope when he’s not there,” Valverde continued. “It’s inevitable to miss him, but we need to do other things too. We have to transform possession into goal chances, that’s what counts.”

On the injury to Suarez, who hit the woodwork with Barca’s best chance before being forced off late in the first half, Valverde added: “Luis has a problem with the calf and his injury set us back because in the second half we spent a lot of time in Athletic’s box and lacked finishers there.”

Bilbao’s winner came courtesy of a spectacular overhead kick from 38-year-old Aritz Aduriz in the 89th minute, with the veteran forward – who will retire at the end of the season – having only been on the field for a minute.

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“Everything in life has a start and a finish,” he said of his impending retirement, as quoted by AS. “I’m grateful to be able to choose to end things where I’m happiest.

“(The goal) is dedicated to my family and everyone who supports me. These kind of things make football so beautiful.”

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