Home / Football / La Liga: Barcelona strong enough to cope without Antoine Griezmann in final two games, says Luis Garcia
Real Madrid have cemented themselves as the favourites to win the La Liga title this year. With a 2-1 win over Granada on Monday, the Zinedine Zidane led team has gone one step further in winning the tournament and need just one more win to do so. But FC Barcelona are not far behind, sitting just four points behind the table-toppers. The remaining two games are crucial for both the teams and a single slip-up could cost them the title. But unfortunately for Barcelona, star striker Antoine Griezmann suffered a muscle injury during the 1-0 win over Real Valladolid last week, and it could pose troubles for manager Quique Setien’s side.
Former Barcelona and Atletico Madrid player and current La Liga ambassador Luis Garcia believes that the Barca squad have enough strength to comfortably pull off good results in the next two games.
In a reply to the question asked by Hindustan Times on whether Barcelona will be able to cope up without Griezmann, Garcia, during a conference call with Indian journalists said: “It’s only two more games left for Barcelona. Antoine Griezmann is obviously an important player. We all know how good he can be. Even though, he has struggled in the past few months, trying to adapt to the new situations in Barcelona. Barcelona squad is good enough to play out the last two games with 100 percent confidence in the players that are going to be involved.”
He further added that players like Ansu Fati. Martin Brathwaite and Riqui Puig will have to play crucial roles in Griezmann’s absence. “Ansu Fati has done great, Brathwaite has been great when he is on the field. There are plenty of players. Riqui Puig is a good player, he’s been very good. There are players enough to put on the field, and not look back and say ‘oh god, Griezmann is not going to be involved’. This squad is good enough for the next two games,” he said.
Former Sevilla forward and another La Liga ambassador Frederic Kanoute, who was also present during the conference call, also added that there is enough depth in Barcelona’s squad to not worry about one or two big players missing.
“I think it’s okay, to be honest. When we talk about Barcelona, it’s such a big and quality squad. Even if one player is missing, it’s not a huge issue, unless it is Lionel Messi. Even then, I am not sure because the talent is there and the whether it is Real Madrid or Barcelona, they can afford missing one or two players sometimes, and I am sure they are going to deliver,” Kanoute said.
On teams being fit for Champions League
The UEFA Champions League tournament is set to return next month with teams vying for European glory. Three Spanish clubs - Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid are still part of the European tournament, but after competing in a crunched La Liga in which every game is a must-win, will the three teams have enough left in the tank for competing in Europe’s biggest tournament.
Addressing the same, Garcia says that the players are professionals and have been competing in back-to-back matches for a long period of time. “I guess, when you play for such teams, you know where you are going to stand. You know how tough your competition is. I know the players did not have proper precise training, so the teams struggled in the first few games with the rhythm. Now they are full 100 percent fitness. It’s about time. There are only two-three weeks left when they have to push themselves but they are used to it,” he said.
The Spaniard further added: “When teams have players with such professionalism, they know how to push themselves. When they have to control themselves and when they have to go full at it. I am sure with managers doing all the rotations, and all the recoveries they are making, the teams will arrive at these games with full form,” he added.
“I understand they knew from the beginning that this situation will be like this. But they have been doing this for many years. Some of the players have only had a couple of weeks rest in a year - they finish competitions, they go to national teams, they finish that and return to clubs - so they are very professional and know how to take care of their bodies. They will make a good effort to take another trophy,” Garcia signed off.