The Ullevaal Stadium saw Atletico Madrid take on Manchester United earlier this week in a friendly clash. The two European giants battled hard, but it was the Spanish outfit that came out on top after 90 minutes.
The difference on the night was a goal by Joao Felix in the dying minutes. The youngster spoke to Diario AS after the clash about his spell at the club so far and his expectations from the current season. Here are the snippets from Felix’s interview
The scorer of the only goal on the night began his interview by sarcastically answering an odd question by the interviewer. The reporter asked if it was the Portuguese international that the club sorely missed in recent years, to which he smiled and replied,
“This is going to be my fourth year.”
When prompted to answer the question about his newfound form, the forward spoke optimistically about his feelings.
“Yes, I understand (smiles), but no, I’m fine, I’m happy, I’m working to help the team, give joy to the club and all the people of Atleti.”
His first season saw Felix face an uphill challenge to adapt to a new system, while his second year was marred by injuries. After his third year passed in mediocrity too, the Portuguese international was asked about his thoughts on the upcoming season.
“The other years I always tried to be better. If this is my year, I don’t know. It depends, we don’t know about the future. But what I can assure you is that I am doing my best to be at the best level so that I can help the team and the club.”
Felix is often criticised for his subpar performances in recent years, but the youngster defended himself and elaborated on the progress he had made since his arrival.
“I arrived [to Atlético Madrid] young, I’m still young but I’ve already grown a lot and I’m sure to grow more. And I’m fine. I’m happy. I have a calm head and when so, things go naturally and let’s hope things are good.”
Finally, the 22-year-old was asked his views on the heavy competition for a starting spot in the forward line.
“With Griezmann, with Álvaro (Morata), with Cunha, with Ángel (Correa). We all get along well and on the field, the team is doing great.”
Atletico Madrid midfielder on the derby against Real Madrid: “Very difficult to beat them”
Following a 1-1 draw in their Champions League opener against Lazio, Atletico Madrid will shift all their attention to La Liga, as they brace themselves for the derby against Real Madrid this weekend.
Heading into this game, Atleti midfielder Marcos Llorente spoke about Real Madrid’s quality and Atletico Madrid’s chances of squeezing all three points from this iconic derby.
Llorente on Madrid derby
“The sensations are good. The team is very good, the other day we played a great game despite ending up drawing. I really think that the team did a great job that must be maintained for this match,” Llorente said in an interview with Diario AS.
When asked whether or not Real Madrid being tagged as favourites could aid Atleti, the midfielder said, “Honestly, it neither motivates me nor demotivates me. We simply have to do what we work on during the week, what the coach asks of us.”
Llorente stressed the importance of the game, adding, “It is a great rival we have in front of us, they are having a very good start to the season and that motivates me and everyone to try to play a good game.”
“Real Madrid is a great club, they have great players and it is very difficult to beat them. I think we have competed, we have also achieved several draws, but in the end, either you go out one hundred percent and do things very, very well or it is difficult to beat them,” he added.
A former member of the Real Madrid youth academy, Llorente joined Atletico Madrid in 2019. Since then, he has racked up over 150 competitive appearances for Los Colchoneros.
Llorente, though, said he feels no sense of vindication when he performs well against his former team.
“No. In the end, it’s been many years since I left there and I’m at Atlético. Perhaps in the first years, those types of feelings and sensations can arise, but today they no longer do,” he said.
Llorente on Vinicius, Koke & Bellingham
The Atletico Madrid star went on to talk about other aspects of the game, including the fact that his team had one less player every time they faced Real Madrid last season.
“I have zero worries. These are things that are not in our remit, that escape our hands. We play football, the referees referee and those who have to decide decide,” he said.
Llorente, in fact, said that the return of Koke could be a real boost for Atleti. “It is always good that Koke is with us, both on the field and in the day-to-day life of the game,” he said.
“Beyond the grass. The support he gives, the advice he gives us, his experience. it is always important to have him and it is great news that he is already training with us,” he added.
Talking about the absence of Vinicius Junior and the form of Jude Bellingham, Llorente said, “Well, you have to be careful with everyone. All Real Madrid players are very good and can make a difference at any moment of the game. Bellingham is having a great start and we have to take that into account and be very focused.”
Finally, Marcos Llorente put out a message for all the Atletico Madrid fans, claiming their support ahead of this crucial encounter this weekend.
“It will be a full house as always. We don’t have to tell them anything, they know the importance of this match for Atlético, we know that they never fail, they are always supporting us and we count on them,” he said.