Atletico Madrid secured a 3-2 win over RB Salzburg in their UEFA Champions League group fixture on Tuesday night as Joao Felix led a spectacular comeback for the Spaniards.
After a powerful strike by Marcos Llorente saw Atletico Madrid take the lead, it took Dominik Szoboszlai less than 10 minutes to get his team back into the game as he dispatched a composed strike past Jan Oblak.
The score was 1-1 at half-time but Atletico Madrid were stunned by an early blow as Mergim Berisha struck from close range to make it 2-1 for the visitors. However, the lead didn't last long as it took five odd minutes for Felix to turn the game on its head after a quick one-two with Angel Correa secured the crucial second goal for the home side.
Diego Simeone's attacking substitutions in the 80th minute brought a different dimension to Atletico Madrid as they shifted to 4-3-3 with two natural wingers on either flank. In a blink, Felix scored his second of the night from a fierce Thomas Lemar cross as Atletico Madrid bagged the three points.
#5 Diego Simeone was patient with Joao Felix and is now bearing the fruit
Plenty of fans disregard what a 19-year-old goes through when he moves clubs. Joao Felix has been in Portugal all his life and, evidently, the big step to Atletico Madrid came a bit too soon in his footballing career. After a few bad games in Spain, fans were already calling for Felix's head. However, Simeone remained calm.
The requirement to learn a new language, to adapt to new teammates, a new country, different climate, various foods and ultimately to work under a new coach who shares different ideologies are all factors that affect a player's form.
However, at the age of 19, Felix was already regarded as a big money 'flop', despite him not even completing 30 appearances for Atletico Madrid.
However, he is gradually starting to prove his critics wrong. The €126 million price tag is an investment by Atletico Madrid for their short-term as well as long-term future, and Felix is already becoming one of Simeone's most important players.
With 2 goals and 2 assists in 5 starts across all competitions, Joao Felix is just getting started.
#4 Thomas Partey has left a huge void in Atletico Madrid's midfield, which is yet to be filled
It is an open secret that Thomas Partey was the link man between defence and attack for Atletico Madrid. The Ghanaian not only protected the back four but was a regular threat in the opposition's half and was heavily involved in the team's build-up, thanks to his progressive passing and positional awareness.
While Arsenal signed him in the summer, Atletico Madrid have had to rely on Hector Herrera, who is not half the player Partey was in Simeone's side.
In the gaffer's own words:
"Partey is a player who understood transitions the most."
In just two Champions League fixtures, Atletico Madrid have conceded six goals from open play. They are being outplayed and overrun in midfield, and Simeone needs to dig deeper into his book of tactics to find a remedy to limit pressure on his back four.