Atletico Madrid failed to beat Club Brugge on Wednesday evening, plunging their hopes of making the Champions League knockout stages into doubt. Yet the drama surrounding Joao Felix has made just as many headlines.
The Portuguese was left on the bench for the whole match while Atleti looked for the crucial goal showed his frustration when Axel Witsel was brought on instead of him as Diego Simeone’s last change.
“First I thought: we are going to finish the match with Cunha on the right, Joao on the left and Morata up front. But then I saw that they had to the strength to get out with counter-attacks, because of the nervousness that was being generated by our desire to win the match, and wanting to attack, and I understood that strength in the middle of the pitch could give us more security, given that Griezmann started to run out of energy.”
“For attacking, he [Joao] was good, but in order to sustain [the attacks] Axel came on. I think that it went well in terms of what we were looking for, which was sustaining the team in attack, continuing to have chances, continuing to play the match in order to not lose it and go out of the Champions League… In this back and forth of choice I took that decision.”
Since it has been reported that Joao Felix is considering his future at Atletico Madrid, given that three years down the line he and Simeone are struggling to work out a productive relationship.
Even if Simeone’s explanation made sense, it will be of little consolation to Felix. The Portuguese forward does not see himself progressing under Simeone and has played just 29 minutes in the last four matches. Some serious repair work is necessary to salvage the relationship.