With nine games in total, January was by far the busiest month of Atlético Madrid’s season so far, and in terms of results it was also arguably the most turbulent.
The red and whites crashed out of the Copa del Rey with a shock home defeat to Celta Vigo and lost ground in La Liga, but did manage some important wins during the new year marathon of fixtures.
As usual, Antoine Griezmann was at the heart of most of our memorable moments, scoring six times in total and making the difference in a number of matches to keep us on Barcelona’s tail at the top of the table.
The Frenchman has had to take on more responsibility this season with our other striker’s misfiring, and has even lead the line on his own on a few occasions.
Now that Jackson has been sold, the onus is on him more than ever to be our main goalscoring threat but so far he has proved that he is up to the task.
Back on January 10th, he broke the deadlock at a rain-soaked Balaídos, helping us to a crucial 2-0 win at high flyers Celta in what looked like a potential banana skin on paper.
Four days later, he came off the bench to secure our passage to the Copa del Rey quarter-finals with a brace at home to Rayo, before showing his predatory instincts again the following weekend with a further two goals away at Las Palmas.
The month ended on a sour note for Atleti, and although Griezmann did find the net again against Celta again in our 3-2 cup defeat, he would have been disappointed not to have done the same in our loss at the Camp Nou.
With Barҫa a goal and a man up, he was presented with a golden chance to equalise after a great ball from Carrasco, but was denied by the outstretched leg of former Real Sociedad teammate Claudio Bravo.
Had things gone differently, he could have also been the hero against Sevilla the previous week, but saw a header rebound off just the wrong side of the post in an eventual 0-0 draw.
Despite the setbacks, the 24 year-old can’t be faulted for his effort and continues going from strength to strength, making the difference more often than not in the rojiblanco attack.
When joining the club he was a talented winger still learning the ropes, but Simeone has turned him into an all-action frontman who covers every blade of grass and can kill teams when given even just the sniff of a chance.
Griezmann’s name is often mentioned now amongst the world’s best attacking players, which is a testament to his remarkable growth and hard work off the pitch.
News also came out during January that he had agreed a new contract with an improved €100m buy-out clause, which fans will be praying is confirmed before the end of the season.
His closest challenger for the award was perhaps a player not even currently at Atleti, Borja Bastón, who hit 7 goals in 5 games at loan side Eibar and moved top of the Zarra standings, the award for the top scoring Spanish striker in La Liga.
Godín, the rejuvenated Filipe and December’s winner Saúl all deserve honourable mentions, but few will argue with Griezmann – especially as it’s the first time he’s won it this season.
Do you agree with our choice? Just how important is Griezmann to the team?