Antoine Griezmann has started clicking in Barcelona’s attack. The France forward had struggled to get in sync with new star teammates Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez before everything fell into place in a 3-0 victory at Eibar on Saturday, pushing Barcelona to the top of the standings.
Griezmann scored the opening goal and made key passes on goals by Messi and Suarez to get Barcelona’s most convincing victory on the road this season. Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde said that he had known it was “a question of time and games” before Griezmann settled in.
“At the end, the great players always find one another and can feel where the other one will make his run or pass. They have worked and played well. And this is the reward.”
The defending champion took a one-point lead over Real Madrid before it visits Mallorca later on Saturday.
Atletico Madrid continued to miss the goals that Griezmann took with him when he left last offseason for Camp Nou. Diego Simeone’s side conceded a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw with Valencia after Atletico went down to 10 men when forward Joao Felix injured his right ankle with all three substitutions made.
Barcelona played its best away match of the campaign, easily breaking Eibar’s attempt to pressure. Griezmann got Barcelona going in the 13th minute when Clement Lenglet met his run behind Eibar’s high defensive line with a long ball that left him alone to beat goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic.
Dmitrovic denied Messi before halftime, but couldn’t turn back his shot in the 58th after a slick passing combination by Suarez and Griezmann set up Barcelona’s all-time scorer in the area.
The three linked up again in the 66th when Griezmann launched Messi with a through ball. Messi then slid the ball over for Suarez to finish off on the break.
Valverde’s team has won five matches across all competitions after an erratic start to the season. Barcelona plays at Slavia Prague in the Champions League group phase on Wednesday.
PAREJO FREE KICK
Atletico was in control when Diego Costa converted a first-half penalty after Denis Cheryshev used his hand to block a ball on the edge of the area. The referee consulted the video review to make the ruling.
Cheryshev hit the crossbar in Valencia’s best chance to level from open play. But two minutes after Felix limped off to leave Atletico a man down, Parejo bent a free kick over the defensive barrier and beat goalkeeper Jan Oblak with eight minutes remaining.
Atletico is in fourth place behind the surprising Granada in third. It has scored just three goals and earned one win in six rounds.