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Vinicius and Griezmann do battle in Madrid derby

MADRID (AFP) – Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti labelled Vinicius Junior the most decisive player in the world this week – but today in La Liga he faces another contender, Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann.

Although the France forward finished a runner-up at the World Cup and Atletico are struggling in fourth place, Griezmann is in sparkling form.

Diego Simeone’s side are four points clear of Real Betis in fifth and their only goal now is to secure Champions League qualification for next season.

Atletico fans have looked on jealously over the past fortnight as European competition resumed without them, after their group stage elimination and failure to even drop into the Europa League.

A win over Madrid would brighten the mood, but the Rojiblancos have not won in the league at the Santiago Bernabeu since 2016.

Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior. PHOTO: AFP

“We’ve got to win, whatever happens, and end our poor run at their ground,” Griezmann told La Liga.

“We have our objective, and that is to win all our games and then see how that turns out.

“We’ve been working hard and heading in the right direction.”

Griezmann joined Atletico after their 2014 title triumph and moved to Barcelona before they won it again in 2020, meaning he has never won the league.

With Atletico 18 points behind the leaders that will not change this season, but against Madrid he could lay a decisive blow in favour of his former side – one just as significant as anything he managed in a Barcelona shirt.

The forward scored a brilliant solo goal last weekend to help Atletico earn a narrow 1-0 win over Athletic Bilbao.

“Griezmann is decisive for us,” said Simeone. “When he’s playing well, the team hits another level.”