It was 24 hours that felt like the prelude to football’s changing of the guard and as Joao Felix watched Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland put down markers in last week’s first round of Champions League last-16 games, the Atletico Madrid superstar knew his turn was next. Just as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have responded to one another’s brilliance for over a decade, Felix wants to use the performances of Mbappe and Haaland to help him show that world football’s next great Ballon d’Or dynasty can be a three-way rivalry. Mbappe stunned Barcelona with a hat-trick for Paris Saint-Germain in the Nou Camp before Haaland scored two goals against Sevilla for Borussia Dortmund the very next night and now, a week on, Felix is relishing the opportunity to try to provide his own moment of magic against Chelsea on Tuesday night. “Cristiano and Messi reached a level that no other player reached, so I hope I can reach it,” said Felix. “Mbappe and Haaland are in a good position to do it and if I reach that level too, then it will be very good for me.” Aged just 21 and speaking in near-perfect English, Felix was relaxed and happy to discuss a range of subjects including his admiration of Chelsea’s Mason Mount, whose talent he had been tipped off about long before the midfielder’s Premier League debut. Felix, in his first interview with English media from a studio at Atletico’s training ground, was also clear in his desire to use the example of his Portuguese idol and national team team-mate Ronaldo, and his competitive relationship with Messi, as inspiration to push himself towards the top. Asked if he, Mbappe and Haaland can bring out the best in one another by constantly laying down new challenges and raising the bar, Felix replied: “Yeah, for sure. When you see players that are a similar age, we want to do the same, we want to show the people that we can do that too.” Felix remembers being a starstruck nine-year-old when he saw Ronaldo score one of his many stunning Champions League goals against Porto inside the Estadio do Dragao for Manchester United and 12 years later he can easily seek guidance from the Portuguese legend, as they share a dressing-room for the national team.
Two weeks ago, it looked like Real Madrid’s chances of winning La Liga title were done. Atletico de Madrid have dropped points since and while they’re still very much in control of their own destiny, Real Madrid should at least try to put some pressure on them when they face Valladolid this night. Problem is, coach Zinedine Zidane won’t have a deep squad and he will also have to think about the upcoming match against Valladolid in the Round of 16 of the Champions League, which will be played nex...
Real Madrid attacker Eden Hazard trained by himself, doing some light jogging during Friday’s session at Valdebebas. Reports from both MARCA and AS indicate that his recovery from the thigh injury he suffered last week is going better than expected and that he could even feature in the upcoming Madrid Derby against Atletico de Madrid, which will be played on March 7th.
|Champions League (League Winners): Atlético de Madrid|
|Champions League (League Position): Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla|
|Europa Cup (League Position): Real Sociedad, Villarreal, Real Betis|
|Relegation (League Position): Real Valladolid, Elche, Huesca|