Performance Analysis: Valencia 2-5 Real Sociedad — Antoine Griezmann has his moments, but no real influence

Antoine Griezmann made no telling impact as Real Sociedad marched to an emphatic 5-2 victory over Valencia at La Mestalla.

Mauricio Pellegrino’s men took an early 2nd-minute lead through the talismanic Roberto Soldado, but a controversial Jonas red card minutes before half time proved crucial in more ways than one.

Shortly after this La Liga game, Pellegrino was sacked. Looking at Valencia’s form post-Unai Emery, it seemed inevitable. Valencia, as it stands, have the 4th-worst defence in the league with 23 goals conceded in 14 games. They also lost 3 of their last 6 league games and have won just 5 so far this season.

This humiliating home loss leaves them languishing in 12th place with just 18 points to their name and gives Real Zaragoza the chance to leapfrog them should they claim a victory away to Mallorca tomorrow. Valencia may have qualified for the knockout round in the Champions League, but their poor league form is what ultimately cost Pellegrino his job.

As for Real Sociedad, they claimed their 6th victory of the season and are now in 7th place, level on points (20) with Levante who play away to Celta Vigo tomorrow. They’ve now lost just one of their last 6 games and are undefeated in their last 4, winning 3. Philippe Montanier’s players are very much in form at the moment.

Playing his part in this impressive run is exciting, young Frenchman Antoine Griezmann. Here’s an analysis of his performance.

 

Antoine Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann started on the left of an attacking midfield three in Montanier’s favoured 4-2-3-1 setup. It’s a familiar role for the Frenchman, who has also featured in the hole as well as up front this season.

(Real Sociedad attacking goal to left) — Antoine Griezmann worked hard on the left flank, tracking back when not in possession, trying to link up with team-mates in midfield, and getting into decent positions in the final third.

 

He proved lively down that flank and his good movement going forward saw him presented with a decent opportunity to score his 4th goal of the season in the 13th minute. Carlos Vela, who drifted into a central position, played him through on goal with a good pass, but Griezmann’s fierce left-footed drive deflected off diving goalkeeper Diego Alves and hit the woodwork. That was one of 2 shots Griezmann attempted on this day.

The other shot came in the 40th minute following a counter-attack. Xabi Prieto released the pacey Griezmann with a nicely weighted through ball, but rather than cut the ball back for Diego Ifran, who was breaking his neck to get up in support, Griezmann opted to shoot from range. The shot — another fizzing drive — was easily saved by Diego Alves low at the near post. Diego Ifran, understandably, was irked by the young Frenchman’s hasty decision.

That was the story with Griezmann on this day — he did well in contributing to Sociedad’s build up play, even playing neat triangles and one-two’s with team-mates on the left flank, and he also got into good attacking positions, but he lacked incisiveness and composure in the final third. He also failed to really test Joao Pereira as he often cut inside rather than try to take on the Portuguese full-back and attack the byline.

He attempted just 2 crosses on this day, both of which were blocked. Rather than play a winger’s game, he tried to link up with the likes of Xabi Prieto and Vela centrally as well as try to make direct runs through on goal. Although this nearly paid dividends, he should’ve stayed out wide a bit more and use his pace and trickery to devastating effect.

Defensively, though, Antoine Griezmann put in a commendable shift — something that isn’t new with him. He chased back when his side wasn’t in possession and helped his full-back Alberto De la Bella, putting in 3 tackles and making 2 interceptions — the second-highest amounts in each respect among Real Sociedad players. When he won the ball, he used his pace to lead his team’s counter-attacks.

In the second half he pushed higher up the pitch, forcing Joao Pereira deep into his own half, but he struggled to get into the game. Instead, it was Vela and Xabi Prieto who proved influential throughout. Both saw more of the ball and ended the day with an assist to their name, having created 9 clear-cut chances between them. Antoine Griezmann, in keeping with what was mentioned concerning his lack of incisiveness, didn’t create a single goal-scoring opportunity on the day.

He was subbed — unsurprisingly — in the 74th minute for Javi Ros. He had his moments, particularly in the first half, but had made no telling impact on the game, even in light of Valencia’s circumstances.

 

Conclusion

It wasn’t exactly a bad performance from Antoine Griezmann, but a few weaknesses in his game were laid bare here: a tendency to go missing in games and a lack of composure and maturity on the ball in the final third.

He’s done well so far this season, but once he makes the necessary improvements, he can do even better and play a bigger role for Real Sociedad in a season that has started off quite well for them.

 

 

**Stats courtesy of Whoscored

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