New challenge at Barcelona set to be the toughest yet for Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann scored 94 in 180 league games for Atletico after joining from Real Sociedad in 2014. He expects his numbers to soar in the coming days. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2019

New challenge at Barcelona set to be the toughest yet for Griezmann

  • Frenchman consolidates his place as ‘one of the best players in the world’

MADRID: Antoine Griezmann is likely to win the titles at Barcelona so far lacking in his club career but leaving Atletico Madrid brings few other guarantees, even for one of the world’s most talented players.
Griezmann’s long-anticipated move to the only team that finished above Atletico last season was confirmed on Friday, his €120-million ($135 million) release clause activated and a five-year contract signed.
“With his arrival,” Barcelona said in a statement on their website, “the Frenchman takes another step forward in his career with the goal of consolidating his place as one of the best players in the world.”
For Atleti, meanwhile, another star is lost and their hopes of absorbing this latest, and perhaps most crushing, departure of the close season may rest on the shoulders of 19-year-old Joao Felix, their €126-million arrival from Benfica.
Their fury at the manner in which the Griezmann deal was conducted was laid bare in a statement claiming the fee paid was “insufficient” and indicating they should be entitled to €200 million — the value of his release clause before the end of last month.
It means the saga is not over yet, but Atletico are used to adjusting. In contrast, at 28, Griezmann now faces the biggest challenge of his career, which boasts last year’s World Cup triumph with France, yet still not a single league title.
In that way, Barcelona, who have won La Liga eight times in the last 11 seasons, are something of a sure bet, so much so that finishing top of the table is no longer a barometer for success.
Instead, their Champions League humiliation by Liverpool might have been persuasive in going again for a player who not only rejected them last year but embarrassed them, his decision revealed at the end of a television documentary.
“My fans, my team, my home: Atletico Madrid,” Griezmann said then.
Josep Maria Bartomeu, Barcelona’s president, might have been able to forgive but the last few months would suggest others will need convincing.
When Atletico played at the Camp Nou in April, Griezmann was whistled by some Barcelona fans. When he went to take a corner, the chant came: “Griezmann, get out of the Camp Nou.”
The players were asked too, their responses coming back curt and irritable.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Atletico Madrid’s fury is at the manner in which the Griezmann deal was conducted was lies bare in a statement claiming the fee paid was ‘insufficient.’

• For Atleti, another star is lost and their hopes of absorbing this latest departure of the close season may rest on the shoulders of 19-year-old Joao Felix.

“I have no opinion,” said Lionel Messi. Gerard Pique, who was involved in the production of Griezmann’s documentary, was asked if he would take part in another this summer. “No, I won’t,” he said. “One was enough.”
Grudges can be quickly forgotten in football, by team-mates particularly, and when performances are good, by supporters too. But it could also swing the other way if he suffers a slow start.
The risk for Barcelona is small. Coach Ernesto Valverde needs to reduce his reliance on Messi and Luis Suarez for goals, particularly in the Champions League, where Suarez remains inexplicably inefficient.
Griezmann scored 94 in 180 league games for Atletico after joining from Real Sociedad in 2014 and could expect his numbers to soar in a team where chances are more frequent and defensive duties less demanding.


SFA launches Saudi Arabia’s first walk-run event in the summer

Photo/Supplied
Updated 13 July 2020

SFA launches Saudi Arabia’s first walk-run event in the summer

  • Staged under the banner of the Quality of Life program, the Step Together walk-run series aims to contribute to Vision 2030 by ensuring that physical activity levels are maintained and grow during the summer months

RIYADH: The Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) has announced its first outdoor event of the summer season, a series of competitive walk-runs called Step Together.
The first Step Together virtual walk-run is open to individual and teams. Participants can register from July 17 until the closing date of July 26.
Adults taking part can choose to complete either a 42 kilometer full marathon or a 21 kilometer half marathon over a period of 10 days, commencing on July 17. Children under the age of 15 taking part in the challenge will complete a shorter 10 kilometer race over the same period.
The event is the first organized by the SFA since lockdown restrictions were eased. It is designed to appeal to all ages, abilities and demographics by offering both walk and run options. Participants who meet the distance goals will be awarded with finishing medals and electronic certificates celebrating their achievement.
Participants will be able to use their own preferred digital fitness tracker. They will upload data and images every day to the race platform to register progress and compare their results with other participants on the race leaderboard.
Community sports groups (CSGs) are also encouraged to join Step Together, with the event featuring an exclusive leaderboard for groups. Members of CSGs can complete simultaneously in both individual and group categories.
Registered users will each receive email confirmations with a unique link and instructions for the Race Result platform.
The dedicated link allows each participant to enter distance and elapsed time each day, validated by a screenshot from any digital fitness tracker.
A results tab on the platform allows users to enjoy friendly competition and compare results with other participants.
There are also leaderboards for various categories on the same page, including age, gender and distance.
Staged under the banner of the Quality of Life program, the Step Together walk-run series aims to contribute to Vision 2030 by ensuring that physical activity levels are maintained and grow during the summer months.
The aims to promote a renewed excitement and energy for outdoor fitness.
A recent SFA report said there was a 60 percent increase in walking in Saudi Arabia since March, while running became 30 percent more popular.
The report added that the increases mainly came from people who were previously less active.
The SFA aims to further encourage enjoyment of physical fitness within this demographic.

Step Together participants can register on the Race Result platform at sfa.sa/STen.