Griezmann and his friend Memphis give the blow they dreamed of | Soccer | Sports

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Antoine Griezmann convinced Simeone, he convinced Miguel Ángel Gil and he convinced Memphis Depay that Atlético was the destination for both of them. “Come to Atleti,” the Frenchman said to his former Barça teammate in the 2021-22 season. They talked every week. They had become friends. Like so many others, they had suffered pressure from Joan Laporta’s board to leave the Barcelona squad. They agreed with the complicity of the resisters. Griezmann admired the Dutchman’s class.

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Oblak, Mario Hermoso, Witsel, Savic, De Paul (Correa, min. 71), Marcos Llorente (Azpilicueta, min. 98), Nahuel Molina (Pablo Barrios Rivas, min. 78), Samuel Lino (Rodrigo Riquelme, min. 71 ), Koke, Morata (Depay, min. 78) and Griezmann (Saúl, min. 105)

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Inter

Sommer, Benjamin Pavard, Alessandro Bastoni (Acerbi, min. 72), de Vrij, Calhanoglu, Dimarco (Yann Bisseck, min. 83), Barella (Davide Frattesi, min. 83), Denzel Dumfries (Darmian, min. 72), Mkhitaryan (Klaassen, min. 111), Marcus Thuram (Alexis, min. 102) and Lautaro Martínez

Goals 0-1 min. 32: Dimarco. 1-1 min. 35: Griezmann. 2-1 min. 86: Depay.

Referee Szymon Marciniak

Yellow cards Mario Hermoso (min. 40), Koke (min. 89), Calhanoglu (min. 103), Acerbi (min. 106) and Yann Bisseck (min. 117)

His adventurous spirit, his vocation as an artist, and the kindness he hid beneath his gangster pose. After his departure to Atlético in the summer of 2022, he had missed him while fantasizing about the football possibilities they could exploit together in a dream forward. Griezmann fulfilled his wish. In January 2023, Depay signed for Atlético and a door opened. There is not a pair of attackers in Spanish football with more imagination or more qualities to partner with. Only injuries prevented them from carrying out the plan continuously. Yesterday they coincided. Unfortunately for Inter.

There are good days and bad days. Days of synapses and days of blackout. Days of tenderness in the foot and days of numb feet. Those who work with their lower extremities suffer the rigor of bad vibrations twice. Footballers discover it late. When the hymns and the songs fade away. after it rings Thunderstruck in the Metropolitan. When the lights flood the meadow and the crowd — 69,196 people, a stadium record — shouts eagerly, and the ball rolls, teammates behave in unexpected ways and players from the rival team occupy disturbing places, like invaders of an ecosystem.

Then, upon returning from the Champions League round of 16, some discovered that they were not having their day. That they were late for the plays. That the ball rises between the metatarsals. That his colleagues could not understand the body language, the feint, the unmarking, or the message implicit in the pass. Only footballers know that in those moments everything conspires in favor of desperation. Only professionals who have been through it understand the value of those who know how to master frustration and rebel against bad days. What Griezmann does with the naturalness of a master. That’s what he did against Inter, this Wednesday. “There is no quiet game,” he said afterwards. It could be his epitaph.

At 32 years old, Griezmann understands his body and mind as he understands the game. To perfection. In 360 degrees. In all areas of the field and in every circumstance. He had just recovered from a sprained ankle that kept him inactive for three weeks and the first plays discovered him in no man’s land, far from the ball, or chasing Pavard on the sideline, the center back who transformed into a winger and went into the Atlético field. It probably wasn’t his day. But he didn’t stop moving. To uncheck Lino, to offer outlets to De Paul, to close passing lanes, to bother rivals, to think of solutions in case the ball reached him. By dint of moving and thinking things through, Griezmann found himself and appeared on the horizon of each maneuver. Inter had taken the lead with a goal from Dimarco and things could not have gotten more difficult – 2-0 in favor on aggregate in the tie – when Koke sent a ball to the penalty spot and that was Griezmann. To the surprise of Çalhanoglu and Bastoni, he took their backs, controlled them and sent the ball into the net. “Going into the break with that 1-1 score was very important,” said Koke, on his way to the shower; “and the entry of Memphis changed the game.”

Simeone: “We needed this Memphis!”

“Atlético deserves congratulations because they did not give up at 0-1,” said Simone Inzaghi, Inter coach, after the surrender. “We should have been more attentive in one-on-one duels to avoid a tie.” Three minutes after 0-1, the 1-1 score put the tie on the boil. During the hour that followed, Inter showed their deep trench team nature. Sommer, their goalkeeper, had stopped everything that leaked through the double line that protected him when Simeone changed Morata for Depay in the 79th minute. The Dutchman’s entry transformed Atlético. His brief coincidence with Griezmann provided the dose of energy the team needed to prolong the siege. Around the 87th minute, when the crowd’s throats were choking, the Dutchman received an inside ball from Koke—again—and made it 2-1. It was the tie of the tie and the ticket to salvation from the penalty shootout.

From the sideline, Diego Simeone reacted so violently to the 2-1 score that in the outpouring of jumping for joy he hurt his left leg. When they later asked him about his injury, he smiled and remained silent. But when they asked him what caused his paroxysm of happiness, he remembered the player he missed on the last day of the League: “We needed this Memphis! I knew you could give us this! I was very happy how he came in because he had not had a good game in Cádiz and I told him so and today he had a great game.”

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