Kieran Trippier has no doubts about Joao Felix’s quality after his “unbelievable” header for Atletico Madrid against Manchester United, but he suggested the forward still has work to do to meet Diego Simeone’s exacting standards.
Joao Felix’s superb diving header gave the Spanish champions the lead in their Champions League clash with the Red Devils, before substitute Anthony Elanga netted to leave the tie finely poised at 1-1 at the halfway point.
The opener represented Joao Felix’s 24th goal for Atletico in all competitions but just his second headed goal for the club, with his only previous such effort coming against Cadiz back in November 2020.
Tripper, who left the Wanda Metropolitano for Newcastle United in January, was not surprised by his former team-mate’s sublime goal, however.
“It was unbelievable. He can do so many things like that. He has the quality,” Trippier told 5 Live.
“We need him to step up, we need him to be the difference. I was surprised they brought him off, because I think that changed the dynamic of the way Atletico Madrid were playing.”
7 – João Félix has scored seven goals in 19 games for @atletienglish in the @ChampionsLeague – only Diego Costa (seven in five) needed fewer games for the club to reach that figure in the competition (Antoine Griezmann also seven in 19). Menino. pic.twitter.com/U3LPaPcE2U
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 23, 2022
Joao Felix also marked his 100th Atletico appearance with a goal against Osasuna in the club’s most recent LaLiga match, yet that was only his seventh start of the season in the league.
And Trippier suggested the Portugal international could do more in training to prove himself to Simeone.
“It says a lot about the manager,” the England man said. “It doesn’t matter how good you are. If you’re not working hard enough in training, he doesn’t care about the name, he doesn’t care how good you are, you won’t play.
“You need to run through a brick wall for him.
“Joao has got all the ability in the world to be a world-class player, but if he’s not doing all the things the manager demands in training, he’s not going to play.
“That’s what he needs to realise sometimes. He’s got all the talent in the world and, after his performance tonight, hopefully he gets many more games.”
However, Simeone spoke in glowing terms about the forward’s goal.
“[It was a] very good action”, said Simeone. “A great goal for reading the game, [good] timing [of the header]. A great pass from Renan Lodi, who is a specialist.”
Despite taking the lead, Atletico’s late concession means they remain winless in their past seven home Champions League matches, drawing four and losing three since beating Salzburg 3-2 in last season’s group stage. This is their longest run without a win on home soil in the competition.
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