Atletico Madrid have endured something of a difficult season so far and in many ways, it has been defined by Joao Felix.
Los Colchoneros sit fifth in the La Liga table for the World Cup break after they were beaten in their final match beforehand, going down 1-0 to Real Mallorca. That came after they finished bottom of their Champions League group for the first time ever, meaning there will be no European football after Christmas for the first time since Diego Simeone arrived.
Running parallel to these struggles has been the case of Joao Felix. Last season it looked as if the Portuguese starlet had finally seen eye-to-eye with Simeone and yet after a strong start, Felix did not begin a game after the September international break and cut a frustrated figure on the bench. Like the team, Felix seems unable to click.
Felix was involved against Nigeria in Portugal’s final warm-up match ahead of the World Cup and in the ninth minute, invented a brilliant defence-splitting pass, which resulted in Portugal’s first goal for Bruno Fernandes.
💥 El pase de @joaofelix70 para iniciar el primer gol de Portugal es
— Javi Gómez (@JaviGomezCh) November 17, 2022
It goes to show what Simeone is leaving on the bench. Felix’s quality has never really been in doubt however. Rather Simeone appears to have a problem with Felix’s behaviour on the pitch and in training, which increasingly looks as if it can’t be solved. Simeone clearly places the club culture ahead of all else.