KEY POINTS

  • Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix is the club's lone star ahead of Saturday's Barcelona clash
  • Felix opened up about how Atletico should play against Barca 
  • The Portuguese said he and his team like to compete against big clubs like Barca with big stars like Lionel Messi

Atletico Madrid star Joao Felix is set to face his La Liga rival, Lionel Messi, once again. Ahead of the Barcelona match, the youngster knows they have to make some changes in their strategy.

With Luis Suarez officially out due to COVID-19, Felix, who has been dubbed the “new Cristiano Ronaldo,” is expected to step up for Atletico during Saturday’s game against Barca. In a recent exclusive interview with BeIn Sports, the 21-year-old said that his team is in “good shape” and is well aware of Barcelona’s playing style.

Felix insisted that Atletico will stick to their “usual” game but also admitted that they would have to do more “running” against an active Barca squad.

“We’re in good shape and motivated ahead of the game,” Felix said. “We’re doing very well and have earned positive results. We are playing very well and are very motivated.”

“We all know that Barcelona like to maintain possession,” he continued. “They like being on the ball, so we will have to run more than we usually do. But we will play our usual style so we can complete a great match.”

Messi and Felix’s first meeting resulted in a heated exchange inside the pitch. This season, the pair will collide once again. As per the Portuguese, he and his side are thrilled to compete against a big team like Barca with a big star like Messi.

“We like playing these big games against big teams and big players,” he emphasized. “We are ready to play and enjoy.”

Lionel Messi said he will stay at Barcelona but only because the club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu broke his word to let him leave Lionel Messi said he will stay at Barcelona but only because the club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu broke his word to let him leave Photo: AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS

Last season, Felix wasn’t able to live up to the hype and failed to help Atletico win games. However, he has managed to make significant improvements since the start of the new campaign.

So far, the midfield star has now tallied a total of five goals, shooting at a rate of 0.9 goals per 90 minutes. He also has a rate of 0.4 assists per 90 minutes, which is four times higher than his 0.1 last term.

Atletico manager Diego Simeone earlier commented on Felix’s performances this season. According to the coach, the former Benfica star has been exceptional for the most part, but he also admitted that there’s still room for improvement and the club is still finding the most suitable plays for him.

"I'm happy with his work, except for a few minutes against Celta [Vigo], which weren't the best,” the manager said of Felix. “We're always looking for a situation to find him [on the pitch]. He's a boy who's in good form, like many of his teammates."

Atletico Madrid's Portuguese forward Joao Felix is one of several players to have moved for fees of more than 100 million euros in recent years. Such extravagance could now be a thing of the past Atletico Madrid's Portuguese forward Joao Felix is one of several players to have moved for fees of more than 100 million euros in recent years. Such extravagance could now be a thing of the past Photo: AFP / PAU BARRENA