By Tim Stannard
Griezmann and Messi await tense reunion after blowback of 'reign of terror' comments from Frenchman's former agent
Partly because members of the Spanish government's income tax division had boarded his private plane on landing. to request documentation from all the passengers and crew. Messi then had to pay some tax later on at the customs check.
Soon after, Messi was then probed by waiting reporters at the airport on whether he had a response to the comments from Antoine Griezmann's former agent, Eric Olhats, that the player was single-handedly responsible for the French forward's indifferent form at the club, by running a "reign of terror" at Barcelona.
It was a decidedly unfair description as while a taciturn, persnickety Messi may not be everyone's cup of tea in the Camp Nou locker room, the actual Reign of Terror, saw the good citizens of France summarily executed during the French Revolution for such heinous crimes as suggesting women have human rights too and wearing pants that end before the ankles. The good people of Oregon would not have fared well.
"The truth is that I’m a little tired of always being the problem for everything at the club,” barked Messi at reporters. "On top of that, after a 15-hour flight, I had the tax authorities waiting for me. It’s madness.”
Thursday morning at Barca's training camp must have been a lot of fun then for Griezmann, as the two players met for the first time after Olhat's comments and the preparations began for Saturday's huge match against Griezmann's former team, Atletico Madrid, that is live on beIN SPORTS from 2:30PM ET.
The Sports Burst show will be live from the Catalan capital to see what went down at La Masia on Thursday and dig into the rumors from The Sun that Manchester City will bid for Messi in the winter transfer window. Tune in to our beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page or beIN XTRA channel at 12PM ET.
Atletico boss blasts Uruguay for COVID cases
While the international break returned a grumpy Lionel Messi to Barcelona, Saturday's opponents for the Camp Nou club were handed the Uruguayan pair of Luis Suarez and Lucas Torreira with positive COVID-19 tests that sees the both out of action for the near future.
The Atletico Madrid duo were on duty with Uruguay and both suffered in a COVID-19 breakout in the camp which sees a lot of clubs waiting on the results of tests for their players.
The blame is being put on a team gathering held without social distancing measures or masks - and this has certainly drawn the ire of Atletico Madrid president, Enrique Cerezo, who blasted that "they had no controls and what has happened is not by chance."
Fortunately, the hot-to-trot Joao Felix has returned - fingers crossed - COVID-19 and injury free and is looking to continue a scoring streak against Barcelona in the Wanda on Saturday. "A lot of teams wanted him," revealed Cerezo. "We knew he had quality and and how is showing it."
Unai Emery expects tough Real Madrid despite absentees
Real Madrid have also been suffering from both the COVID-19 virus and also the international break. While Casemiro has returned to training after testing positive, Eden Hazard and Eder Militao are expected to miss Saturday's crucial game against second-placed Villarreal.
That is quite the blow considering Dani Carvajal is also out of action and there will need to be late checks on the fitness of the center back pairing of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane who both picked up knocks on duty with Spain and France respectively.
However, Villarreal coach Unai Emery is still expecting a tough affair on Saturday in El Madrigal. "It will be the best Real Madrid," declared the Spanish coach to Marca despite quite a lot of evidence building up to the contrary.