This week, Joao Felix, a striker for Barcelona, finally scored after a lengthy goal drought. Coming up on Sunday in La Liga, his parent club Atletico Madrid will be visiting the Catalan city. So, the timing seems a little too coincidental.

With his winning goal against Porto, the Portuguese forward advanced the Blaugrana to the round of 16. A confidence-booster before Atletico’s visit, they pulled it off after two embarrassing group stage exits.

After a spectacular debut after his summer loan from Atletico, Felix faltered and went scoreless in 12 appearances for his team. Los Colchoneros, managed by Diego Simeone, are in third place and have a better goal differential than Barcelona. After suffering through his time at the nation’s capital, Felix will be determined to leave an impression.

In 2019, Atletico Madrid spent $138 million to acquire the striker from Benfica. They did so in order to fill Antoine Griezmann’s shoes upon his departure. However, the Portuguese forward had a rough period in the Spanish capital. He sometimes showed flashes of brilliance but failed to establish consistency.

Felix finally shining under Xavi

The forward was never a good match for Simeone’s style of play, which calls for constant effort from every area of the field. In the victory against Porto, Felix showed his preference for playing at his own pace with a well-taken shot and another effort that he sent crashing over the crossbar.

Although his situation has improved at Barcelona, he and the club have been the subject of criticism in recent weeks. Xavi Hernandez’s players have had an underwhelming performance in La Liga, losing the Clasico to Real Madrid and losing away to Shakhtar Donetsk.

Meanwhile, some of the player’s old colleagues from the Metropolitano Stadium have spoken out against him. The 24-year-old allegedly angered his parent club despite the fact that they are still considering his return to the Spanish city.

Diego Simeone never felt comfortable with Joao Felix’s work-rate or defensive contributions
Diego Simeone never felt comfortable with Joao Felix’s work-rate or defensive contributions

Diego Simeone never felt comfortable with Joao Felix’s work-rate or defensive contributions

What’s going on between Atletico Madrid and Joao Felix?

Felix has been the target of criticism from his former teammates for his actions leading up to his departure from Atletico. Antoine Griezmann added fuel to the fire by joking that Felix “grew tired of being consistent at Atletico,” echoing Saul Niguez’s earlier claims that Felix “could have done things better” in his quest to depart.

Felix has since expressed his disagreement with such words, and the debate seems to continue. A number of other people, including Enrique Cerezo, president of Atletico Madrid, have spoken out against the Barca loanee.

“Due to various circumstances, he’s not at Atletico. I wouldn’t be surprised if Joao had a big game against us”, as per quotes from Diario AS. “Many players kiss the badge. I don’t know what’s on his mind right now, it’s been two years since I last talked to him. But, if he kisses the Barcelona badge, it’s because he feels that way for Barcelona.”

The 24-year-old winger has also wasted no time igniting controversy in the buildup to his first encounter with Los Rojiblancos in his new uniform. This time, while making a pointed comparison between Xavi’s strategy and Diego Simeone‘s methods.

“In the end when you get here you know more or less what the coach is like, what the team is like, you adapt and work for it or things don’t work out for you. You have to be constant and there came a time when he got tired, he couldn’t see himself here anymore and that’s why he and the club made the effort to give him a way out”, he told ESPN.

Photo credits: IMAGO / Pressinphoto : IMAGO / CordonPress