Antoine Griezmann

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La Liga roundup: Griezmann shines in Barcelona’s 5-2 drubbing of Betis

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Wins from Barcelona and Atletico Madrid highlight La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Barcelona 5-2 Real Betis

Antoine Griezmann’s Camp Nou debut was one for the books.

With Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez sidelined with injuries, the floor was all Griezmann’s. He didn’t disappoint.

Down 1-0, Griezmann, sneaking past his markers inside the box, acrobatically tapped a lofting ball from Sergi Roberto into the back of the net.

The best was yet to come, however.

In the second half, as Barcelona pinned Real Betis back in their defensive third, the Frenchman’s magic came to life.

Soon after, the floodgates opened – Barcelona’s skill effortlessly began to pick apart a weaker Betis side. Just 30 minutes after the 28-year-old’s second goal, Ernesto Valverde’s side posed a 5-1 lead.

Loren Moron’s superb strike gave Betis a second, but the defending champions had already done the damage behind goals from Carles Perez, Jordi Alba, Arturo Vidal and Griezmann.

With Sunday’s performance in mind, how will Barcelona function with Messi, Suarez and Griezmann spearheading the attack?

Osasuna may soon find that out firsthand as they host the Catalonians next. Elsewhere, looking for their first points of the season, Betis host Leganes.

Leganes 0-1 Atletico Madrid 

With a goal in the 70th minute, Vitolo played the unlikely hero for Atletico Madrid in their 1-0 win over Leganes.

Following a smooth lay-off from Joao Felix, the 29-year-old calmly slotted the ball past Juan Soriano, ten minutes after replacing Mario Hermoso.

The goal certainly meant a lot to Vitolo and Atletico Madrid, who along with Sevilla, are one of two teams to start the season with six points after two matchweeks.

Although not entirely dominant throughout the course of the match, the home side was inches from stripping two points from Los Colchoneros with Jonathan Silva’s free-kick hitting the crossbar.

Despite having a pair of clear-cut opportunities on Sunday, Atletico’s $142 million summer signing is yet to celebrate his first La Liga goal. Alvaro Morata, too, is waiting to catch fire.

With Atletico hosting an underperforming Eibar next, the narrative that Simeone’s side is lacking efficiency in the attack can soon fall flat. On the other hand, no points to their name, will look to exploit a confidence-battered Real Betis.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Alaves 0-0 Espanyol

RCD Mallorca 0-1 Real Sociedad

VIDEO: Barcelona beaten by 38-year-old Aduriz’s bicycle kick

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Barcelona’s 2019-20 La Liga campaign, and their quest for a third straight domestic title, began with a shocking defeat away to Athletic Bilbao, last season’s 8th-place finishers.

But, on the bright side (for neutrals and Barca haters, of course) it happened in the most spectacular of fashions.

[ MORE: Barcelona, Bayern Munich agree deal to loan Philippe Coutinho ]

38-year-old Aritz Aduriz made his early submission for goal of the season: the following bicycle kick from 14 yards out on a high, long cross into the penalty area (goal at 0:38 mark).

The result snapped Barca’s streak of having won their opening league fixture for 10 straight seasons.

To make matters worse, Luis Suarez suffered a muscular injury to his right leg in the first half and was subbed off in the 37th minute. Barca were without Lionel Messi due to a calf injury, but Antoine Griezmann made his competitive debut for the club after moving from Atletico Madrid for $135 million this summer.

On the bright side (for Barca), they did manage to agree a loan move for Philippe Coutinho to leave the club, presumably shedding some, or all, of his wages off their books for the rest of the season.

Griezmann thankful for ‘another chance’ to join Barcelona

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after publicly rejecting an offer to join Barcelona, France forward Antoine Griezmann put on his new blue-and-burgundy shirt and thanked the Spanish champions for giving him a second opportunity.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

Griezmann signed his five-year contract with Barcelona on Sunday to complete his move from rival Spanish club Atletico Madrid.

After inking the deal, Griezmann told club president Josep Bartomeu “thanks for giving me another chance.”

Griezmann had openly flirted with joining Barcelona last year in a “behind-the-scenes” documentary that followed him for weeks as he contemplated the pros and cons of staying at Atletico or making the jump to Lionel Messi’s club.

The 45-minute “The Decision,” which was produced by a company owned by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, concluded with Griezmann accepting a new contract with Atletico, which also promised to provide him with teammates who could finally help him win an elusive major title.

But after another season finishing runner-up to Barcelona, Griezmann said it was now time to change his mind and make the leap to the five-time European champion.

“This year is different,” Griezmann said at a news conference at Camp Nou on Sunday.

[ MORE: Pulisic impressing Lampard with early preseason start ]

Griezmann said that, other than being reluctant 13 months ago to uproot his family from Madrid, he also “wasn’t prepared to make that step and felt like I had something left to do at Atletico.

“This is a new challenge, a chance for me to improve, to not be complacent, to fight for a spot in the starting 11, to be an important player for this club, and to win a Liga, a Copa del Rey, and a Champions League, which are missing from my trophy case,” he said.

As for any Barcelona fans, or new teammates, who could still feel spurned by “The Decision,” Griezmann said that he was confident he could win them over.

“I have done some bad things in my past,” he said. “(But) I have never repented. (The documentary) was something that I wanted to do and thought should be seen. I didn’t toy with either (club). The important thing is that we are now together. If I have to ask anyone for forgiveness, I will do so on the pitch, where I speak the best.”

The 28-year-old Griezmann helped France to win the World Cup last year. In five seasons with Atletico, he scored 133 goals and won the Europa League, a Spanish Super Cup and a UEFA Super Cup. But there was also a lot of frustration at coming so close to even greater glory with a loss in a Champions League final and second-place finishes in the Spanish league.

[ WATCH: Mahrez sends Algeria to AFCON final with last kick of game ]

Now Griezmann will go from being the leader of Atletico’s attack to becoming effectively a sidekick to Messi, and strike partner to Luis Suarez.

Griezmann had a contract with Atletico until 2023 with a buyout clause of $224 million, but the clause automatically fell to $134 million on July 1.

Barcelona announced it had paid $134 million to free Griezmann from his contract on Friday. Atletico, however, is demanding that Barcelona pay the full $224 million because they believe that the player had already negotiated the move to Barcelona before July 1.

Bartomeu insisted Sunday that “there is nothing” to Atletico’s claim because he said Barcelona only contacted Griezmann’s agent after the player announced in May that he wanted to leave Atletico.

Atletico Madrid to legally contest Griezmann transfer to Barcelona

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While Barcelona was jubilantly celebrating the capture of Antoine Griezmann on a $135 million transfer, his former club Atletico Madrid was preparing court documents to contest the transfer.

Atletico Madrid confirmed on Friday immediately after Barcelona’s official announcement of the transfer that they would be legally contesting the financial compensation, arguing that Barcelona owes them a whopping $225 million instead.

The club angrily released a statement one week ago angrily calling out Barcelona for negotiating with Griezmann on personal terms back in early March, outside of the transfer window and in the middle of the season.“Atletico de Madrid learned that FC Barcelona and the player had reached an agreement in March, specifically in the days following the return match of our Champions League tie against Juventus, and that they had been negotiating the terms of the agreement since mid-February,” last week’s club statement said. “Atletico Madrid wishes to express its strongest disapproval of the behavior of both, especially FC Barcelona, for prompting the player to break his contractual relationship with Atletico Madrid.”

Now, they are contesting that because Barcelona came to terms with Griezmann months ago, which may have voided his contract, they are obligated to pay his release clause at that time, which was $225 million. The release clause dropped to $135 million on June 1, which is what Barcelona claims to have triggered.

Because release clauses are handled by the league office, Barcelona did not have to deal directly with Atletico Madrid on the transfer, instead funneling the money through La Liga and thus voiding Griezmann’s Atletico Madrid contract, allowing him to complete the move to Barcelona.

“Atletico de Madrid believes that the amount deposited is insufficient to meet its release clause, since it is obvious that the commitment of the player and the Football Club Barcelona was closed before the aforementioned clause was reduced from 200 to 120 million euros,” the club said in a statement confirming legal action.

“Atletico de Madrid believes that the termination of the contract occurred before the end of last season due to events, acts and demonstrations carried out by the player.”

Griezmann spent five seasons with Atletico Madrid, making 257 appearances for the club across all competitions and scoring 133 goals. He won the Europa League in 2018 and finished in the top three of the La Liga table in every campaign with the club.

Antoine Griezmann officially acquired by Barcelona

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One of the most anticipated transfers of the summer is complete as Barcelona officially announced the acquisition of Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann.

[ MORE: Atletico Madrid to legally contest Griezmann fee ]

The club took the unusual step to confirm the fee of $135 million, confirming Barcelona matched his release clause.

Along with the announcement, Barcelona confirmed that Griezmann has signed a five-year contract, keeping him tied to the club through 2024. The club also stated he now holds a staggering release clause of $900 million.

The move had been highly anticipated for some time, with Griezmann confirming he would leave Atletico Madrid this summer after spending five years at the club. Griezmann, a Real Sociedad youth product, had moved to Atleti in the summer of 2014 for $33 million. He made 257 appearances for the club across all competitions, scoring 133 goals and winning the Europa League in 2018.

The transfer took longer than expected, however, with negotiations reportedly dragging on after Barcelona initially insisted on paying the transfer fee in installments, prompting a vicious public statement from Atletico Madrid that claimed Griezmann began negotiations with Barcelona back in late February and early March. Ultimately, Barcelona made the payment in full, as required by La Liga for release clauses, and the deal – as confirmed on Friday – went through.