Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone backed “one of the best in the world” Antoine Griezmann to return to form, while he offered his support for Luis Suarez amid a lean spell.
Simeone’s side sit fourth in LaLiga, four points clear of fifth-placed Real Betis and appear set to secure Champions League qualification.
However, the form of forward Griezmann and the out of favour Suarez has come under scrutiny in the absence of the injured Joao Felix.
Griezmann has just three LaLiga goals in 21 appearances this season, finding the net once every 448 minutes on average, and has not scored in his last eight league games.
But Simeone insists the France international needs just one strike to regain his confidence as Atletico prepare to visit Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
“Antoine is not converting goals in recent games, his performances have not been what he is accustomed to,” Simeone told reporters at a pre-match news conference on Friday.
“He is one of the players with the most goals in the history of Atletico… He always works, he is always committed to the collective work of the team, I have no doubt that he will come out of this situation.
“It’s Griezmann, one of the best in the world, what he needs is to find a goal, which will give him confidence. From that, we will see the Griezmann who we were used to in previous years.”
Only Fernando Torres (102 in 281 games) has more goals than Griezmann for Atletico in LaLiga history, the latter scoring 97 times in his 201 appearances for the club.
Suarez’s form has also been a concern for Simeone, with the Uruguay international limited to appearances from the bench and scoring just twice in his last seven league games (both against Alaves).
The former Liverpool and Barcelona talisman is still Atletico’s joint-top scorer this season, his 11 LaLiga goals only matched by Angel Correa, and Simeone hopes Suarez will soon find his feet again.
“I have no doubt that Luis will always score goals, with his team-mates, when he plays, in the Uruguayan team… because he has the ability to score,” Simeone added.
“Hopefully if he comes in from the start or comes on in the game, he will make his mark on them. It’s what he wants, what he feels, and what he lives off.”
Suarez has failed to score in his last five away games against Athletic in the Spanish top flight, having previously netted on his first two visits to San Mames in LaLiga – both in 2015 with Barcelona.
Whether Suarez can regain his confidence against Marcelino’s side remains to be seen, but Simeone knows the Basque side will pose a tough task.
“Marcelino is a very good coach, he makes his teams play well and that makes them complex to face,” he continued.
“Also, whenever we have faced him he has very good teams, which usually have very good footballers.
“This means that the matches are tight due to the characteristics of the team that Marcelino creates. I can’t imagine a match that isn’t tight.”
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