International Champions Cup 2019: 3 talking points from Atletico Madrid's 2-1 win over Juventus

Atletico Madrid defeated Juventus 2-1
Atletico Madrid defeated Juventus 2-1

Juventus and Atletico Madrid wrapped up their pre-season campaigns in the International Champions Cup at the Friends Arena in Solna, Sweden. In what was a highly entertaining fixture, the Spanish side defeated their Italian counterparts 2-1, with all goals coming in the first half.

Juventus have failed to impress under new manager Maurizio Sarri in pre-season, having failed to win any of their three exhibition games. Their penalty shootout victory over Inter Milan came in the middle of defeats to Tottenham Hotspur and Atletico Madrid.

On the other hand, the Rojiblancos have been in fine form, picking up five victories – including a memorable 7-3 win over city rivals Real Madrid – from six pre-season fixtures, with another shootout victory recorded over Mexican side Guadalajara.

Here, we present five talking points from the International Champions Cup fixture.

#1 Joao Felix is proving to be the real deal

Joao Felix
Joao Felix

Having captured the imagination of all of Europe with his displays last season, Joao Felix has emerged as one of the burgeoning talents in the world. And Atletico Madrid sprung into action, signing him for the record-breaking fee of €126m in the transfer window which made him the fourth most expensive player of all time.

A lot of eyebrows were raised over the figure, especially given the fact that the Portuguese international is still a teenager with just one season of professional football under his belt. Many expressed doubt over his ability to perform on the biggest stage.

However, if the former Benfica man is feeling any pressure, he is definitely not showing it. He has meshed into life with Diego Simeone’s men effortlessly.

Heading into the clash with Juventus Felix had already starred for the LaLiga side, scoring three goals and assisting two, while also impressing with his all-round contributions.

It took just 24 minutes for the number 7 to lay his marker in the game, playing in Thomas Lemar with a perfectly threaded through ball which the French international slotted in to put Atletico 1-0 up.

Thomas Lemar
Thomas Lemar

Nine minutes later, Felix himself got on the scoresheet, with Lemar this time returning the favor for him to slot home with a right footed finish from the center of the box.

This proved to be the match winner, and after the match his manager was full of praise for Felix, enthusing: "Joao has many skills, he is adapting very quickly to what he needs to do. He has a vision that allows him to adapt to adapt to numerous positions, and the best thing is that he has the willingness to learn."

While these might only be pre-season fixtures, Felix would head into the season proper with a lot of confidence to justify the trust placed in him by Atletico Madrid.

#2 Juventus failed to take their chances

Juventus v FC Internazionale - 2019 International Champions Cup
Juventus v FC Internazionale - 2019 International Champions Cup

In a first half that was somewhat evenly balanced, Juventus went into the break with a 2-1 deficit, their goal coming off the boot of Sami Khedira.

However, following a raft of changes in the second 45 minutes, the Bianconeri rose into the ascendancy, pushing Atletico Madrid back as they tried to force the equalizer. Diego Simeone’s men were struggling for air as Sarri’s men looked to force the issue and end their pre-season on a high.

However, try as they might, Juventus could simply not find a way past a resolute Atetico Madrid backline, as Jan Oblak and his defensive stalwarts were in inspired form on the night.

This was especially strange considering the Bianconeri were the totally dominant side in the second half, and ended the match with 60% possession. They fired 27 shots to Atletico’s 11, with six of those being on target compared to their opponents' three.

As the saying goes, the only stat that matters in football is found on the scoreboard. Despite largely controlling proceedings in the match, Sarri would be disappointed that his wards failed to take their chances.

#3 Paulo Dybala was in inspired form

Paulo Dybala
Paulo Dybala

Just three seasons ago, Paulo Dybala was the toast of the Bianconeri faithful, scoring 19 goals in all competitions as the Turin giants made it all the way to the final of the Champions League and completed a domestic double.

The 2017-18 season was even better for the Argentine international, as he scored a personal best of 26 goals in all competitions. It was expected that he would only grow in strength from there.

However, the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus last season reduced the importance of the 25-year-old. Dybala was demoted to a squad player, making mostly substitute appearances and scoring just 10 goals in all competitions - his worst return since arriving at Juventus.

It was believed that Dybala would be let go in the summer window, and multiple Premier League sides including Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal signified interest. But nothing materialized out of those reports.

Now the former Palermo man seems to have put all that behind him, displaying a strong performance against Atletico Madrid. Dybala was introduced with half an hour left and he made the most of it, playing a massive role in Juventus’ dominance in the dying stages.

He had three shots on target and created two good scoring opportunities for his teammates, in what was a reminder of his supreme abilities.

Addressing his performance after the match, Sarri recognized the midfielder’s talents saying:

"I can talk about Paulo all I like, but the market goes in a certain way and then whatever I say counts for nothing. I think he has the right characteristics to play as a false center-forward, but in any case we have to cut six players from the Champions League list.

"Our situation is difficult, almost embarrassing, because we run the risk of leaving out players of a really high level. It’s a situation we have to resolve and it is not just about the decisions made by the coach or club."

While he might still end up departing Juventus, considering PSG are interested, Dybala's 30-minute cameo against Atletico Madrid served as a useful reminder about his abilities.

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Edited by Musab Abid
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