Real Madrid get more penalties than other teams because they attack more, according to Atletico Madrid boss Simeone.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique and club president Josep Maria Bartomeu have suggested Madrid, who sit four points clear of the Catalan giants at the top of LaLiga, are benefiting from favourable decisions from referees.

Zinedine Zidane said has was "tired" of hearing such comments after his side beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 on Sunday, the second straight game they have won courtesy of a Sergio Ramos penalty, which was awarded after a VAR review spotted Dani Garcia's trip on Marcelo.

Iker Muniain was critical of the officials after the match because Athletic did not receive a spot-kick for Ramos appearing to step on Raul Garcia's foot off the ball or for another incident involving the Madrid captain and Dani Garcia.

Madrid have been awarded nine penalties in LaLiga this season – only Athletic and Real Mallorca have earned more (10 each) – and Simeone thinks it is natural for a team that plays on the front foot to get such decisions.

"VAR exposes everything. Before we didn't have the possibility of seeing some things that we now see. The referees are people who can be wrong as well," Simeone told a news conference.

"It is fairer. If they give you more penalties, it's because you are in the opposition's area more. If they attack more, like Real Madrid, it means you are there longer.

"In the speed of the game it's difficult to see what happens, but now another referee sees it with calmness on television. People too, from their homes.

"Then there is a person who decides, which is the VAR. It can hurt you or help you, but now we are all clear on if its offside, if it's a penalty… we are all more exposed."

Atleti face Celta Vigo on Tuesday and will be without Joao Felix due to an ankle injury.

Joao Felix has scored eight goals and supplied three assists in 34 appearances in all competitions since joining from Benfica for €126million last year.

Simeone intends to remain patient with the 20-year-old Portugal international when he is available for action again.

"Joao is in his first year at Atletico. I am not surprised by anything that is happening to him," said the Atleti boss.

"He has to be patient and not disengage. The anger he has because of what he wants to show, because of his qualities, sometimes costs him.

"Few footballers at 20 or 21 are the finished article. He has undoubted talent. He's a humble, respectful boy who gets along with everybody."

Joao Felix has been ruled out of Atletico Madrid's LaLiga game against Celta Vigo on Tuesday due to an ankle injury.

Portugal forward Joao Felix was substituted in the 54th minute of Atletico's 3-0 victory over Real Mallorca on Friday

Tests carried out on Sunday revealed the 20-year-old has suffered "a traumatic bone edema in the ankle", the club said in a statement on Monday.

Although it was confirmed Joao Felix will miss the trip to Balaidos to face Celta, Atleti did not provide a time frame for his recovery.

Joao Felix has struggled to live up to expectations in his first season with Atleti, who shelled out €126million to sign him from Benfica last year.

He has scored eight goals and supplied three assists in 34 appearances in all competitions.

The attacker has already missed 10 games due to two separate injuries this term and one more through suspension.

Diego Simeone backed Joao Felix despite substituting the attacker again in Atletico Madrid's 3-0 win over Real Mallorca in LaLiga on Friday.

Joao Felix was replaced early in the second half at the Wanda Metropolitano, where Alvaro Morata scored a brace before Koke's sealer.

A reported €126million signing from Benfica last year, the Portugal international has been substituted in 17 of his 21 LaLiga starts.

But Atletico coach Simeone backed the 20-year-old and said he had full confidence in the attacker.

"We are absolutely confident in his quality, his talent and the way he plays and we need him to reproduce on the field," he told a news conference, via AS.

"We focus on the goal of the team and the club, we do not stop at individualities. On the basis of promoting individualities, we seek to improve the collective. If we stop at the singles it would be dangerous.

"Joao started well against Osasuna, he had good games, [against Mallorca] he was not as fine in his game and he understood that the team needed other characteristics as with Vitolo, who worked for what the team needed."

In 34 appearances in all competitions this season, Joao Felix has scored eight goals and provided three assists.

Simeone, whose side consolidated third place in the table, said his message to younger players was simple.

"I always try to convey to the young people who come here that this is a competitive team, that they have to win," he said.

"And we work as a consequence of looking for the best to win, we have no commitment to anyone, only that things go towards where we understand that it is better."

Atletico are in action again on Tuesday when they visit Celta Vigo.

Antoine Griezmann was named on the bench for Barcelona's LaLiga meeting with Atletico Madrid, for whom Joao Felix was left out of the starting line-up.

Quique Setien selected just two regular attackers for the visit of Atleti to Camp Nou on Tuesday, with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez joining forces in attack as the reigning champions looked to regain top spot from Real Madrid.

Former Atleti forward Griezmann was joined on the bench by Ansu Fati, who was handed a starting berth in the 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo at the weekend.

Holding midfielder Sergio Busquets took the place of Fati following his return from suspension, with the only other change seeing Clement Lenglet replace Samuel Umtiti.

Diego Simeone made five alterations to the team that started a 2-1 win over Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata dropped to the bench, while Koke missed out through suspension. Diego Costa, Marcos Llorente and Yannick Carrasco were drafted into the line-up in their places.

Santiago Arias and Felipe were named in defence, with Kieran Trippier on the bench and Stefan Savic absent due to a ban.

Joao Felix is perhaps feeling the pressure of the "economic impact" from his move to Atletico Madrid but he can emulate Antoine Griezmann in becoming a star for Diego Simeone's side, says Abel Xavier.

The Portugal sensation was one of the most sought-after players of the previous close season prior to joining Atleti, who paid €126million to Benfica for his signature.

There have been flashes of the brilliance that saw Atleti stump up that huge sum, though six goals and a solitary assist from 24 LaLiga appearances - prior to Tuesday's clash with Barcelona - is hardly the most fruitful return.

Former Portugal international Xavier is convinced Joao Felix will adapt to life at the Wanda Metropolitano, though, and is sure it remains the right environment for the 20-year-old to flourish.

"There is a great hope on Felix because of his move to Atletico [but] the economic impact of his value is giving him too much pressure," Xavier told Stats Perform News.

"He needs to find the correct surrounding to be able to realise the potential of his own game. 

"That is going to be the next step with him, especially at Atletico Madrid with their philosophy and style of play.

"I admire Simeone a lot. There are a lot of people who do not like the identity of his game because he's very effective. At the end of the day he's fighting for the big trophies.

"But when you are integrating a big player, a fantasy player, a player who likes to have the ball…it's a process also for Felix to work on different aspects of the game.

"Maybe he was not used to defending so much without the ball. He needs to have the ball.

"For that reason I think it's a good process that will build him in different aspects to become stronger.  

"He's going to be one of the greatest in the future, for sure, with the correct set-up and style of play collectively."

Some pundits have questioned whether Joao Felix was right to move to Atleti and his name was linked tentatively with Manchester United during the coronavirus-enforced shutdown.

Xavier doubts anyone would pay more for his services than Atleti did, though, and said Joao Felix can become key for Simeone, just as Griezmann did for five seasons before joining Barcelona last year.

"It's very difficult at this present moment that someone can come and pay more than what Atletico paid for him," Xavier said. 

"He needs right now to be focused on his game. He's had a few injuries also, which is not a good sign. He needs to find stability and consistency. 

"Atletico right now is the best place for him. Stay two or three years and be the main figure in the same way that Antoine Griezmann was."

Diego Simeone believes Atletico Madrid's defensive resilience is merely a by-product of the players' commitment to his footballing vision.

Atleti edged a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid on Saturday, the first time they have recorded back-to-back LaLiga victories since beating Real Betis and Levante either side of the mid-season break.

A return encounter against the latter opponents is up next for Los Colchoneros, whose previous away fixture ended in a 5-0 shellacking of Osasuna.

The departures of Diego Godin and Lucas Hernandez last year forced Simeone to remodel his backline, with Stefan Savic and Jose Gimenez stepping up to form a fine alliance at centre-back, while Kieran Trippier and Renan Lodi have proved shrewd full-back additions.

Backed up by the exceptional Jan Oblak between the posts, Atletico have only been breached 22 times in 30 LaLiga games in 2019-20, although Simeone insists he is reluctant to rely too much on this obduracy.

"There will always be mistakes, all teams make mistakes," he told a pre-match news conference.

"We must try to be focused and, with the best security we can offer the team, we have rotated.

"I am still convinced that the team's strength is the emotional convention of the group. This will be the way to reach the goals we want."

That goal, at least until August's mini-tournament in Lisbon to conclude this season's competition comes around, is securing qualification for the Champions League with a top-four finish.

The weekend result left Atleti in third, level on points with Sevilla immediately behind them and six better off than Valencia down in eighth.

More sparkling form from Joao Felix would certainly strengthen their hand after the Portugal youngster notched a brace as Osasuna were torn apart.

"He is a different player," Simeone said of the €120million recruit, who has endured a mixed debut campaign in LaLiga.

"We have always valued him, we have seen him in training and in games. Surely, when he grows up and can spend more time in situations that are decisive for the team, he will continue to evolve.

"He has all the important qualities to break a game. With his growth in the game he will grow even more as a footballer."

Experience is certainly not something Joao Felix's boss lacks.

If Atleti are victorious against Levante, Simone will equal Luis Aragones as the coach with the most LaLiga victories for the club.

"I did not know about this and, as I have already said, I do not stop on the path we are going through," he added.

"This is not the time to stop and look in the mirror; it is only time to work, win and continue in the best possible way."

Manchester United could be edging closer to landing Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa.

Chiesa, 22, has been heavily linked with a move away from the Serie A club, where he came through the youth system.

And the Italy international could be on his way to the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD GETTING CLOSER TO CHIESA

Manchester United are pushing for Chiesa and their latest offer could be enough to start proper negotiations, according to La Nazione.

Chiesa has also been linked with Juventus and Inter with his contract in Florence running until 2022.

A 17-time Italy international, Chiesa has scored seven goals and provided three assists in 26 games this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Joao Felix has yet to hit top form at Atletico Madrid. Goal reports the LaLiga club turned down a £135million (€150m) offer from a Premier League side earlier this season.

- Chelsea could yet strengthen further. The Daily Express says they are in talks to sign Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell, who is said to be valued at £80m. Chelsea will have Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner arrive at the club ahead of next season.

- David Luiz's future at Arsenal remains uncertain following his horror show against Manchester City on Wednesday. According to the Daily Mail, the Brazilian defender wants a two-year deal, rather than the one being offered. Luiz is coming out of contract at the end of the month.

- Could Edin Dzeko's time at Roma be coming to an end? Corriere dello Sport reports Roma need to qualify for the Champions League to keep the striker at the club. Dzeko is contracted until 2022, while Roma are three points behind fourth-placed Atalanta in Serie A.

- Morgan Schneiderlin is set to return to France. RMC Sport says the midfielder will leave Everton to join Nice, returning to Ligue 1 for the first time since 2008.

- Staying at Goodison Park and Everton have joined the race for Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu, according to the Mirror.

Joao Felix was delighted with his two-goal performance in Atletico Madrid's 5-0 thrashing of Osasuna in LaLiga on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old attacker struck twice before goals from Marcos Llorente, Alvaro Morata and Yannick Carrasco lifted Atletico to a comfortable win.

Joao Felix moved onto eight goals in his first season at Atletico and the Portugal international was happy with his display.

"I'm feeling good and very happy because of the two goals and the 5-0 win," he said.

He added: "It's very different. We like playing with fans in the stands, even away from home. We have to get used to it and continue like this."

Atletico moved into fourth in the table, sitting two points clear of Real Sociedad – who have a game in hand – and Getafe.

Diego Simeone said it was important to claim three points as Atletico recorded their first win since returning from the coronavirus-enforced break.

"It's important. We needed a win and we were up against a side that completed a great game in San Sebastian," the Atletico coach said.

"We knew we'd encounter difficulties like the ones we found.

"The game was very evenly matched until we went 2-0 up. Both sides had their chances.

"I think our attacking players were fast and clinical and we benefitted from that."

Atletico are in action again with a clash at home to Real Valladolid on Saturday.

Joao Felix struck twice as Atletico Madrid ended a three-match winless streak in LaLiga in style with a 5-0 hammering of Osasuna on Wednesday.

Diego Simeone's side had slipped to sixth prior to their trip to El Sadar Stadium, but Joao Felix's double set the stage for them to move into the top four.

Having broken the deadlock in the 27th minute, Joao Felix was on hand to tuck in his and Atleti's second shortly after the hour, with Adrian Lopez spurning a glorious chance to get Osasuna back into the game.

But any lingering doubt over the result was eradicated when Marcos Llorente drilled home with 11 minutes remaining.

Llorente then teed up Alvaro Morata to add a coolly taken fourth, before Yannick Carrasco completed the rout.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey is good enough to play for "the best teams in Europe", according to head coach Diego Simeone.

Thomas has been linked with a move to the Premier League with Arsenal after eight years in Madrid, where he first featured for Atleti's youth and reserve teams.

Simeone can see why such a transfer would appeal to the London club and several other European giants, even if Thomas is still searching for consistency.

"Thomas is the one who best understands this position and the transition from defence to attack, shooting, scoring, providing assists and playing passes between the lines," Simeone told reporters ahead of Atleti's game against Osasana.

"When he's at his best level consistently, he's so good that all the best teams in Europe are looking at him."

Joao Felix was one of the continent's most sought-after talents this time last year, but his first season at Atleti has not gone entirely to plan.

A €126million signing from Benfica, the Portuguese has scored just four times in LaLiga and did not feature in the weekend draw with Athletic Bilbao due to a knee problem.

"[Joao Felix] had started these recent training sessions very well, but then he had to sit out due to a knee problem," Simeone said. "Now he is working with the same enthusiasm.

"We will assess how he is, we will do a couple of tests, and based on this, we will decide what is best for tomorrow [against Osasuna].

"He has to do what he has done in other games, against Villarreal, Liverpool.

"He had a great pre-season, a very good start, then he had an injury. It was difficult for him to return because of the rhythm and the association with his new team-mates. And then he started to be the player from the beginning.

"He is a young boy. It is normal that this happens to him during the season, but we have the idea that he is very important from here to the end."

Simeone's comments came after Atletico confirmed defender Felipe had suffered a thigh strain.

The 31-year-old suffered a setback having already missed Sunday's stalemate at Athletic, Atleti’s first game since LaLiga's resumption, through injury.

"Felipe Monteiro underwent further tests at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra that confirmed a muscle strain in the quadriceps of his left thigh," the team said on Tuesday.

"Although the defender has made progress since the previous tests he underwent last week, the area requires maximum caution and he will continue to train and be assessed individually."

Joao Felix would be better off if he had joined a club like Real Madrid instead of Atletico Madrid, claims Carlos Carvalhal.

Atletico shelled out €126million to sign Joao Felix from Benfica ahead of Antoine Griezmann's departure for LaLiga rivals Barcelona last year.

However, the 20-year-old has only contributed six goals and three assists in 28 appearances, with ankle and hamstring injuries sidelining him for separate short spells.

Carvalhal, who is the head coach at Primeira Liga side Rio Ave, does not think the style of football played under Diego Simeone suits Joao Felix.

He believes a move to their arch-rivals Real Madrid would have put Joao Felix in a better position to develop his game.

"Joao Felix is​​a great player and I don't want to create controversy with my statements. He is a player with incredible technical ability, with a great level. But I'm not sure Atletico's way of playing is the best for him," Carvalhal said on Cadena SER.

"That was my doubt when he signed for them. Diego Simeone is a great coach, his teams are very strong, very competitive, but Joao Felix does not seem to be the perfect player to be there.

"In a different situation we would see a great Joao Felix. It will be a little difficult and it will take time more time. He will have to transform as a player.

"If he had gone to a team like Real Madrid, he would be at a higher level. The context would be more favourable for him.

"It's not a criticism of Simeone, there is no doubt about what he has achieved. The work speaks for itself, I just believe this marriage is not the best."

Joao Felix was suspended as Atletico returned from a three-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic with a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

He can make his first appearance since the stoppage when Simeone's men take on Osasuna in Pamplona on Wednesday.

Atletico Madrid attacker Joao Felix will learn a lot from Diego Simeone and has natural talent much like Bernardo Silva, according to Nuno Gomes.

Joao Felix joined Atletico from Benfica for a reported €120million last year, but has struggled to live up to the price tag in his first season at the LaLiga club.

The 20-year-old has scored six goals and provided three assists in 28 games for Atletico, but his season has been hampered by several injuries.

Portugal great Gomes said his compatriot would learn plenty from Simeone, while comparing his talent to Manchester City star Silva.

"Joao Felix, first of all, is also a player that I admire a lot and comparing to Bernardo Silva, they have the same situation in terms of natural talent," he told Stats Perform News.

"The things look very easy for them. In regards of his season in Atletico Madrid, I remember that he started very well, he started the season very, very well, the pre-season he scored a lot of goals and then he suffered a small injury that put him out for a couple of weeks.

"I believe this experience, this first year allows him also to grow in terms of his style of play because with the ball, he's a top talent, he always wants to go to the goal, he has always the eyes on the goal, the way that he receives the ball looking already to the offensive plays so in terms of what he learned being coached by a coach like Simeone, I think it's very good for him.

"Simeone will give him things that he never experienced because he used to play a lot of offensive game and now he has to learn how to defend better, how to be a part of a team because he grew up in an environment that things were very easy for him. When you have difficult situations in front of you, you have to work harder in order to surpass those difficulties so I believe he will grow a lot with Simeone."

Atletico Madrid will resume their LaLiga campaign away to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, with Joao Felix suspended.

Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix could be set for a spell on the sidelines after sustaining an injury to the medial collateral ligament of his left knee.

LaLiga club Atleti revealed on Monday that their club-record signing had undergone tests at the University of Navarra Clinic, with the results confirming he had suffered a low-grade sprain.

Atleti will now be hoping the youngster is fit in time for the resumption of LaLiga, which looks set to restart on June 11.

On Saturday, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez confirmed that the league had been given permission to resume behind closed doors following the coronavirus-enforced suspension.

Joao Felix has made 28 appearances so far for Atleti in all competitions, with the former Benfica forward scoring six goals.

Atletico Madrid star Joao Felix says his 16-year-old brother Hugo is capable of doing things he was unable to do at the same age.

Hugo is in the youth ranks at Benfica, who Joao Felix won the 2018-19 Primeira Liga with before leaving for Atletico in a €126million move last July.

The 20-year-old Portugal international believes his younger sibling has what it takes to break into the first team and forge a successful career in football.

"If he listens to those who want to help him, he is going to be successful," Joao Felix told BTV.

"He does things I couldn't do at his age. He has everything to do well and reach the first team. For his age he works a lot.

"We both like to score. He takes better free-kicks than me, I am better at penalties, but we both play more or less in the same positions.

"In football you have to play simple, but we like to do something different, something that excites the crowd, and we have some similarities.

"Since we were little we saw each other playing and tried to do the same things."

Joao Felix also got his hands on some silverware at international level with Portugal at the Nations League Finals last year.

With Atleti having booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a dramatic extra-time victory over Liverpool in their last match before the coronavirus pandemic led to the suspension of most major sport across the globe, he is hoping for more.

"You need a bit of luck to win the Champions League," said Joao Felix.

"But we hope to [win] it and if I won the Champions League, it would be something very good in my life and my career.

"[It would be] one of the happiest days [of my life] - the dream I've always had since I've been playing football."

Saturday should have seen Barcelona host Atletico Madrid in LaLiga and pit Antoine Griezmann against his old club once more.

Griezmann left Atleti for Camp Nou in the second most expensive transfer of the previous close season, his €120million move eclipsed only by Joao Felix, the man bought to replace him.

Neither player has exactly enjoyed a resoundingly triumphant season, which is an affliction to hit many of the top 10 most expensive transfers of 2019.

We look at each of those players and whether their signings have, until now, been a hit or a miss...

 

JOAO FELIX: Benfica to Atletico Madrid (€126m)

Benfica and Portugal's golden boy scored in pre-season victories over Juventus and Real Madrid to give Atleti fans reason to believe the post-Griezmann future was bright.

However, just six goals in 28 competitive appearances later, doubts have been growing as to whether the 20-year-old forward will ever truly suit Diego Simeone's system.

VERDICT: MISS

ANTOINE GRIEZMANN: Atletico Madrid to Barcelona (€120m)

Griezmann vowed to stay at Atletico in 2018 only to change his mind a year later, and his performances for Barca are in keeping with a man not quite at ease in his surroundings.

Only Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez better his goal involvements for the Blaugrana in LaLiga this term (eight goals and four assists), while he is second only to Messi for chances created (26), but fans were entitled to expect more from the club's latest mega-money forward.

VERDICT: MISS

EDEN HAZARD: Chelsea to Real Madrid (€100m)

Chelsea fans feared the worst when their star man was lost during a transfer embargo, but things have hardly gone swimmingly for Hazard at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Injury problems have restricted him to just nine starts and a solitary goal and assist in LaLiga. He has also only created 14 chances, as many as James Rodriguez (who has started just four league games) and Lucas Vazquez (who has started six).

VERDICT: MISS

HARRY MAGUIRE: Leicester City to Manchester United (€87m)

The world's most expensive central defender might not be thought of as the world's best, but that should not detract from his impact on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

He leads the way for duels won, aerial duels won, blocks and interceptions among United defenders in the Premier League this season, helping them to eight clean sheets. Oh, and he's already been made club captain.

VERDICT: HIT

MATTHIJS DE LIGT: Ajax to Juventus (€85m)

The most coveted centre-back of the window after Ajax's remarkable Champions League run, De Ligt delivered a dreadful performance on his Juventus debut in a 4-3 win over Napoli.

He has won the most aerial duels and has the pass success rate of any Juve defender to feature more than five times in Serie A this term, but there are already doubts about his long-term suitability to Maurizio Sarri's side.

VERDICT: MISS

LUCAS HERNANDEZ: Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich (€80m)

Bayern smashed their transfer record to sign defender Hernandez, but injuries have made it difficult to assess whether the money will prove to be well-spent.

A knee problem in September was followed by a serious ankle injury that kept him out for nearly four months, meaning he has started only nine games in all competitions for the Bundesliga champions.

VERDICT: MISS

NICOLAS PEPE: Lille to Arsenal (€80m)

Pepe was something of a symbol of Unai Emery's problematic final few weeks in charge as he struggled badly to find form for the Gunners.

He has certainly shown signs of improvement in 2020 – only Mesut Ozil (38) has created more chances in the league than Pepe (34) for Arsenal – but fans will have hoped for more from their record signing.

VERDICT: MISS

FRENKIE DE JONG: Ajax to Barcelona (€75m)

Another Ajax star who became coveted by clubs across Europe last year, De Jong opted for Barca and immediately became a regular in midfield.

He has not quite adapted to life in LaLiga - Ernesto Valverde's exit and Quique Setien's arrival as coach did not help - but, in turbulent times for the club, he looks to be a safe bet as the beating heart of Barca for years to come: he had created more chances (24) than any other Barca midfielder this term and only Sergio Busquets has more recoveries and interceptions.

VERDICT: HIT

RODRI: Atletico Madrid to Manchester City (€70m)

Manchester City's record signing has proved a smart bit of a business given midfield-anchor supreme Fernandinho has spent much of this season in defence.

Rodri has attempted more passes (1,996), recorded a better passing accuracy (92 per cent) and more recoveries (181) than any other City midfielder in 2019-20. He looks very much at home in Pep Guardiola's system.

VERDICT: HIT

ROMELU LUKAKU: Manchester United to Inter (€65m)

Lukaku's move to Inter seems to have been that rarity in modern-day transfers: a deal that has worked out well for everyone concerned.

United's attack is taking the more fluid shape Solskjaer wants, Antonio Conte at last got the forward he tried to bring to Juventus and Chelsea, and Lukaku has looked in the form of his career, with 17 goals and two assists in Serie A as part of a fearsome partnership with Lautaro Martinez.

VERDICT: HIT

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