Audition time for Griezmann
Stamford Bridge offers Atletico star a stage to seek both redemption and a prospective new suitor
There is a reason why Antoine Griezmann never wears white boots.
Even on the tier directly beneath Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's lofty pedestal, he is still a perennial bridesmaid; struggling to cut through the noise of his contemporaries.
Tomorrow morning (Singapore time), however, he can change all that.
With both club and country, he has continually fallen short on the biggest stages - and he threatens to do so again in Atletico Madrid's Champions League group finale with Chelsea.
Yet Stamford Bridge still affords Griezmann a rare, dual platform that will allow him to seek both redemption and a prospective new suitor.
Often subdued in games where he would ordinarily drag Diego Simeone's side over the line single-handedly, there was a feeling in the Spanish capital that he had virtually checked out.
Statistics bore out that theory, with the France international's recent eight-game drought in all competitions equalling a similar streak in La Liga 12 months ago.
Simeone, too, appeared to have lost patience with his talisman, substituting him in six games.
Memories of Griezmann heralding a new era at the Wanda Metropolitano were also fading, with supporters roundly booing him when he was hooked during last month's Madrid Derby stalemate.
They may not realise what they have lost until he is gone, although some may have secretly wished the forward's likely departure was a matter of weeks, rather than months, away.
There is no escaping that the 26-year-old had severely underperformed this season.
September's corresponding fixture with Chelsea demonstrated why it could sometimes be better to have two match-winning strikers for the estimated value of Atletico's lone talisman.
Atletico simply could not handle the interchangeable threats of Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi, while Griezmann found himself nullified by Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta.
NOT SOLELY RESPONSIBLE
But he is not solely responsible for the failings of a side whose previously dismal run of form mirrored his own.
Even Messi and Ronaldo would genuinely struggle to excel in a team which had left its frontman increasingly isolated and largely devoid of service.
Defeat by Real Madrid and Roma would have killed Atletico's season before Christmas.
Until the latter, Manchester United's object of affection was the poster boy for that failure.
However, it is only thanks to his renaissance that Los Colchoneros remain in touching distance of La Liga's title race, even with a six-point deficit to make up on leaders Barcelona.
Atletico's president previously joked that Old Trafford was too "small" to accommodate Griezmann but he is outgrowing his current surroundings of La Liga's tertiary outfit.
Like Sergio Aguero, Fernando Torres and Diego Costa before him, his trademark exploits cannot be restricted solely to the predominantly adoring masses in Madrid for much longer.
Griezmann travels to London as a man on a mission, not least as a player whom Arsenal turned down four years ago, bewilderingly in favour of Yaya Sanogo, if some media reports are to be believed.
He is again a proven match-winner at a time when Atletico need it, arguably more than ever.
Chelsea's well-drilled side are unlikely to roll over and help the visitors' Group C mission impossible, with Antonio Conte hell-bent on his side topping the group.
Without a near-miracle in Qarabag's own curtain call with Roma, Atletico's efforts may ultimately prove in vain as they face the prospect of tumbling into the Europa League.
Against a backdrop of potential adversity, Griezmann must still lay down a marker.
The Stamford Bridge crowd won't be the only ones watching in anticipation.
EQUATION: Chelsea, who are through to the last 16, will secure top spot if they win or if Roma fail to win. Roma will go through with a win, or if Atletico fail to win. Roma will finish top if they win and Chelsea do not. To go through, Atletico must win and hope Roma do not.