Rio Ferdinand believes Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix would not have enjoyed Diego Simeone’s tactical approach during Atletico Madrid’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday night.
Atletico looked like a side fearing a City landslide and spent almost the entire 90 minutes defending inside their own final third. City grabbed the breakthrough after a brilliant pass by substitute Phil Foden allowed Kevin de Bruyne to fire home.
But the 1-0 scoreline did not tell the story of the match. Man City managed 68% possession and had 15 attempts on goal from 88 attacks.
Atletico managed 15 attacks and for the first time under Simeone they failed to register a shot on goal.
It was hardly a night for Atletico’s £113m Felix to shine. But he did look good in possession and would have been the man to get Atletico into the game had he not been left isolated for much of the match.
Ferdinand was impressed with Felix’s display, but feels Simeone’s tactics are killing the Portugal’s international’s best assets.
“Imagine if he plays in the team who give him in the ball in the final third,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.
“He’s getting the ball on the halfway line, it’s the furthest place forward, and he’s still got to run 50, 60 yards and eight players to beat.”
For the first time under Diego Simeone, Atlético had ZERO shots in a game 😬 pic.twitter.com/oKrqkxPz7h
— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 5, 2022
Asked if Felix would have enjoyed any part of the game, Ferdinand said: “The final whistle.
“I can’t imagine he sits there and enjoys playing the way he’s asked to play.
“I respect the way Simeone plays because he’s brought success to that club, unrivalled from the times before him.
“But for a player like Joao Felix, he can’t be sitting there on the plane home going, ‘they got the best out of me, they continually get the best out of me as a player’. He won’t be saying that.”
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Fellow pundit Owen Hargreaves believes Felix needs to leave in order to maximise his potential.
“I think you watch him and go, ‘he gets into the Liverpool team, he gets into the City team, or the Chelsea team’. He’s upside is that good,” said Hargreaves.
Simeone: ‘We were looking to win’
“Rodri came here [to City] and played in this defensive Atletico side and now he’s playing in an important team. He [Felix] will get a chance to play in a top team, because he’s that good.”
Atletico coach Simeone did concede afterwards that the better side won. But he rightly feels his team are still alive in the tie.
He said: “It is a bad result because we lost 1-0 and we were looking to win.
“It is clear we were playing against an extraordinary opponent. The numbers and statistics speak for themselves and they play in a very dynamic way.
“We had to suffer but we have to go to Madrid now and use the tools we have at our disposal.
“We need to be better but we are still in the tie. Let’s see if we can have the ball more in the second leg and create more difficulties for opponents.”