Villarreal vs Atletico de Madrid - Simeone tips Griezmann to end goal drought

Posted Monday, December 12, 2016 by PA

Diego Simeone has backed Antoine Griezmann to end his LaLiga scoring drought ahead of Atletico Madrid's visit to Villarreal on Monday night.

Griezmann has not scored in the league since Atletico won 2-0 at Valencia on October 2.

The France striker - who netted 39 goals for club and country last season - has since gone seven league games without a goal.

But the 25-year-old hopes to end that run on a night when he will discover if he has been named the world's best player at the Ballon d'Or ceremony in Paris.

Asked at his pre-match press conference if Griezmann's drought is affecting him psychologically, Atletico boss Simeone replied: "I don't think so.

"Players are used to going through different phases.

"But he's working hard and he always does something important for the team.

"He has to keep working so that he can see where he needs to improve, and in that way the important goals will come."

Fifth-placed Atletico hope to end their own unwanted record at El Madrigal as they have not beaten anyone around them this season.

They drew at Barcelona in September, but have since lost to Sevilla, Real Sociedad and leaders Real Madrid. Villarreal are sixth, two points behind Atletico.

Villarreal have only had a few days to recover after qualifying for the knockout stages of the Europa League by beating Steaua Bucharest 2-1 on Thursday.

The Europa League last-32 draw will be made on Monday afternoon, but Villarreal manager Fran Escriba said: "We just want to focus on LaLiga now.

"Atletico are a great team. They may play good or bad, but it's always tough to beat them."

Defender Filipe Luis (thigh) is missing for Atletico, while Villarreal are without winger Samu Castillejo (hamstring).

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