More expected from Griezmann as Messi doubtful to play Betis
24 Aug 2019
Antoine Griezmann and Barcelona team-mates in training on Saturday, ahead of their Spanish League match against Real Betis on Sunday. Agence France-Presse
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has said he will not risk Lionel Messi’s fitness against Real Betis on Sunday and insists it is up to everyone to integrate Antoine Griezmann into the team.
Messi has returned to training this week after the Argentinian sustained a calf injury on Aug.5 and missed the whole of Barca’s pre-season.
“If he is not 100 per cent, I think he won’t play,” said Valverde in a press conference on Saturday.
“We have to wait for training, I can’t predict anything. I don’t know if we can count on him, or not, or to what extent.”
With both Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele injured, it leaves Griezmann as the only fully-fit striker for the game at home to Betis but the Frenchman struggled to make an impact on his first competitive start for the club against Bilbao.
“He is settling in more and more every day,” Valverde said.
“What we want is for him to be involved a lot in the game. We know if he is involved, if he is busy and gets on the ball, he can be decisive.
“The other day against Athletic at San Mames, he was not as involved as we would have liked but it is also up to us to help him, to allow our strikers to participate more.
“We have to make our possession more productive, we have to work hard to bring them into play because we know they can be dangerous. It is the same for Antoine.”
Earlier, in Friday’s only match, midfielder Joan Jordan scored in the second half to help Sevilla beat Granada 1-0 on the road and win their second match in as many rounds in the Spanish league.