Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman praised Antoine Griezmann after he played a starring role in his side’s 4-0 La Liga win at home to Osasuna on Sunday, finally hitting form in a difficult second season with the Catalans.
Barca’s 120-million-euro forward had been profligate in the last home game against Real Betis, even though he did manage to score, and did little of note in last week’s 1-0 defeat at former side Atletico Madrid.
But he scored Barca’s second goal against Osasuna with a thunderous volley and then laid on a pass for Philippe Coutinho to score the third, after he had served the Brazilian earlier in the game but seen his team mate’s shot cleared off the line.
“Today he looked like the player we all want to see, someone who fights, who works hard and is effective in front of goal,” Koeman told a news conference.
“He played with a lot of freedom, he provided an assist and scored a great goal. He has not changed, he has always worked as hard as he could, but today he created a lot more space with his movement. And his goal is sure to give him confidence.”
Griezmann also seemed to benefit from the presence of Martin Braithwaite, who made a rare league start after impressing in Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League.
The Dane scored his third goal in two games to give Barca the lead against Osasuna with a scrappy finish, while Lionel Messi rounded off the win by scoring late in the game and dedicated his goal to the late Diego Maradona.
“Braithwaite is working very hard to get opportunities and matches, he proved his quality against Dynamo and we thought that today we needed a player like him to move into the small spaces, we needed a classic striker with his characteristics,” Koeman said.
On Messi, he added: “I didn’t know he had prepared a tribute like that but he clearly had been thinking a lot about it. It was a lovely gesture and a great moment.”