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Valverde Continues To Hammer Griezmann

Griezmann Barcelona

Barcelona new boy Antoine Griezmann has been issued a call to arms by manager Ernesto Valverde following an ineffectual La Liga debut.

The Frenchman was unable to effect play in the 1-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao at San Memes, first from the left and then from a central position.

Griezmann, who signed for Barca for a whopping £108million in the summer from Atletico Madrid, is set to lead the line against Real Betis on Sunday with both Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi unlikely to start.

Messi is likely to be used from the substitutes bench as he returns to fitness from a calf problem, while Suarez and winger Ousmane Demebele have been ruled out for a month with muscle injuries.

With Philippe Coutinho offloaded this week on-loan to Bayern Munich in addition, the mantle is firmly at Griezmann’s feet to impress on his competitive Nou Camp debut.

Valverde made this apparent in no uncertain terms, ahead of Sunday’s game.

‘He has to be more involved in the play and always be looking to get involved,’ he said on Thursday.

‘It is good to have him near the area because of his movement but that will only work if we completely dominate games.’

Artiz Aduriz’s stunning late winner on the opening night of the La Liga season confined Barcelona to their first opening-day defeat of a domestic campaign since 2008.

With both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid winning, against Celta Vigo and Getafe respectively, the pressure is already on Valverde’s team to avoid another slip up on Sunday evening.