João Félix arrived in the summer of 2019 in Madrid, was presented with pomp and circumstance, lived up to expectations in the pre-season, but consecutive injuries and a season below the average for Atl himself . Madrid left the Portuguese player still short of everything he had promised. This year, Félix had another opportunity. And he started the season with the same promises he left blank the previous season.
He scored one goal against Granada, watched another, was the secondary actor on a day when the protagonist was Suárez but deserved all the praise and a few more from the Spanish media. In the end, he admitted that things were going well – but he rejected the idea of doing anything differently. “We played a great game, we are very happy with the performance of the team. I work like last year, do things the way I should and try to have as much fun as possible. I’m like me, but things are going well. I have to continue like this, ”said João Félix, adding after Atl. Madrid will have to face the season which has now started “match by match” and without “looking too far”.
PARTY … ????
???? ⚪ # AúpaAtleti | #AtletiVillarreal pic.twitter.com/SLGfU5ARdX
– Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) October 3, 2020
And Simeone, the name always associated with the Portuguese player’s lack of success – either for not putting the attacker where he gives in the most, or for not believing in the attacker or for preferring a system that does not favor not the qualities of the striker – seemed to be in line with the idea that Felix could become one of the most important elements of Atl’s season. Madrid. “Last season, in the pre-season, he played with the same enthusiasm and joy in the game that he has shown now, but then he was injured by Valencia. He has made a good start to the season, we hope he can support him, that he continues to grow with the team and that we can enjoy a footballer who excites us a lot, ”said the Argentinian coach in preview of this Saturday’s match in Wanda. Metropolitano, against Villarreal.
Yet even after the exciting rout against Granada, the truth is that Atl. Madrid drew midweek against Huesca and went no further than a zero on the scoreboard. This Saturday, Simeone kept João Félix and Suárez in front of the attack but changed roles both in the middle and in defense: Vitolo, Marcos Llorente and Mario Hermoso left, Koke, Correa and Savic entered. On the other side, Villarreal looked to continue the midweek victory over Alavés – following the Camp Nou rout with Barcelona this weekend – and put Parejo and Trigueros in direct support of Paco Alcácer.
João Félix took on the role everyone wants, but ex-Porto player stole the role he deserved
In a first part in which Atl. Madrid had more of the ball but couldn’t do anything with that possession, the mattresses went to the break with no shots on goal and no opportunities created. Unai Emery’s Villarreal excelled in the defensive organization, preventing the depth of Simeone’s squad that was Granada’s crossover, and completely blocking all the creativity of Atl’s players. Madrid. João Félix was too close to the left wing, had no room to unbalance between the lines and was completely canceled out by Mario Gaspar’s mark. Gaspar, who, in the right corner of the Oblak area, ended up playing the only danger in the first half, with a very strong shot that the Slovenian goalkeeper dismissed with a nice save (19 ‘). Gerard Moreno, right of Emery’s squad, was the best of Villarreal and the player who had the ability to lead the offensive transition.
In the second part, Simeone’s big goal, in addition to the three points, was to keep a record that has lasted for several years: in 12 games, the Argentine coach has never lost against Unai Emery, totaling up to seven wins and five draws. But the truth is that the logic of the first half remained and it was Villarreal, even with less ball, who had the greatest ability to cause danger. Again by Gaspar, who seemed launched on the right and already inside the penalty area, Oblak had to apply again (50 ′) and Atl. Madrid remained without tears or inspiration, reaching the first shot just after 62 minutes.
About 20 minutes before the final whistle, Simeone took Suárez, Correa and Koke to pitch Diego Costa, Yannick Carrasco and Marcos Llorente and left João Félix on the pitch, which turns out to be a vote of confidence in the player. Portuguese – which, despite this, little or no opportunity for imbalance in the game. Felix ended up leaving for Herrera’s entrance, but the story of the game hasn’t changed.
Atl. Madrid started the season impressively, fell on Huesca straight away and confirmed the most pessimistic views this Saturday: the year has changed, the toll has changed but the Simeone side are playing the same. This is not enough, it is not enough for victories and even less for conquests. At some point in the meeting with Villarreal, which ended with the second straight draw, it looked like we were watching a game from last season – both from Atl. Madrid like João Félix like Diego Simeone.