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Antoine Griezmann upbeat despite losing Barca La Liga debut

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A calm Antoine Griezmann is optimistic that things will soon turnaround for Barcelona after their shock opening day defeat to Athletic Bilbao.

Barcelona, who are chasing a third successive La Liga title this season, delivered an underwhelming performance at the San Mame. In fact, they managed to get just two shots on target even with Griezmann and Luis Suarez leading the attack.

Not helping matters for Ernesto Valverde’s side was the absence of captain Lionel Messi due to a calf injury. Suarez later sustained a calf problem of his own before the break and made way for Rafinha Alcantara.

38-year-old Aritz Aduriz then came off the bench to acrobatically volley the ball past Marc-Andre ter Stegen for a dramatic 1-0 win for Athletic on Friday night.

Nonetheless, Griezmann refused to hit any panic buttons after losing his La Liga debut for Barcelona.

“We have time. The season is long and we have to work towards the next game,” said the 28-year-old, according to Marca.

“We have to work because that’s the only way we’ll improve.”

Griezmann, who joined Barcelona from La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid for €120m, struggled to make an impact. He was particularly poor in the second-half and couldn’t get into any rhythm with his new team-mates.

“We lacked what costs the most in football. That last pass, that cross or that overlap,” added the forward.

When asked about Suarez’s injury, Griezmann would only say: “Let’s just see how he is and if he can play against [Real] Betis.”

Griezmann will now be aiming to open his league scoring account for Barcelona in their trip to Real Betis on August 25.

Undoubtedly, the Blaugrana will hope the Frenchman’s prospects in Seville will be bolstered by the return of Messi. While the five-time Ballon d’Or winner hasn’t returned to team training yet, he apparently is making good progress in his recovery from injury.

BILBAO, SPAIN – AUGUST 16: Antoine Griezmann of FC Barcelona (L) competes for the ball with Ander Capa of Athletic Club (R) during the Liga match between Athletic Club and FC Barcelona at San Mames Stadium on August 16, 2019 in Bilbao, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)