Will Joao Felix celebrate if he scores against Atletico?
That’s the much-anticipated question in the focal match of La Liga’s 15th round between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid as Felix faces his former team.
Barcelona hosting Atletico Madrid is a crucial showdown as both teams currently share 31 points (with the away team having played one less match), trailing the top two teams, Real Madrid and Girona, by just 4 points ahead of this round. It’s a special match for Joao Felix, who moved to Barcelona from Atletico Madrid on a loan deal last summer. So far, Felix has scored 4 goals and provided 3 assists in 16 matches (11 in La Liga and 5 in the Champions League), breaking his goal drought with a goal against Porto in the previous week, following a dry spell since his brace against Antwerp on September 19.
As known, Joao Felix joined Atletico in 2019 with a club-record transfer fee (€126 million), making him the second-most expensive teenager after Mbappe, accompanied by high expectations. After a decent first season with 9 goals and 3 assists, Felix performed even better in the following season with 10 goals and 6 assists, contributing to Atletico’s La Liga triumph after a 7-year wait. In the 2021/22 season, he was Atletico’s standout player, but conflicts arose with coach Diego Simeone, fans, and the management, leading to his loan to Chelsea in the second half of the previous season and his move to Barcelona this season, despite a significant salary cut.
“I need to go somewhere to play,” Felix once expressed. “I always believed Barcelona is the ideal place; I have to make an effort to find joy in playing again.”
Given his not-so-pleasant relationship with Atletico, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Portuguese international celebrates a goal tonight, but perhaps not to the extent of shirt removal or kissing the badge, as he is likely to return to the club in the summer.
Why was Felix uncomfortable at Atletico?
No one has a better answer than Felix himself: “Simeone has a way of understanding and looking at football that others don’t. He helped me play his way, even though I wasn’t used to it. That style of play is patience, resilience on the field. It’s not bad, but it’s very different from other coaches.” “I adapt better to Barcelona’s style of play. Xavi told me to enjoy, to play football with joy. Of course, he also demands tactical aspects from me, but the important thing is that I have to be happy.”