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Friday February 23, 2024

Xavi calls on Felix to let Atletico criticism inspire him

By AFP
December 03, 2023

BARCELONA: Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez called on Joao Felix to use criticism from his former Atletico Madrid team-mates to motivate him when the teams meet on Sunday in La Liga.

The Portuguese forward, on loan at Barca from Atletico Madrid, failed to convince coach Diego Simeone during four years in the Spanish capital.

Atletico playmaker Antoine Griezmann this week said Felix lacked “consistency” or “got tired” of finding it, while midfielder Saul Niguez also said Felix had plenty to improve on.

Barcelonas Portuguese forward Joao Felix is on loan from Atletico Madrid, where he failed to shine consistently in four years. —AFP File
Barcelona's Portuguese forward Joao Felix is on loan from Atletico Madrid, where he failed to shine consistently in four years. —AFP File

Simeone said Saturday he did not want to speak about the forward because he was not at the club, despite still being an Atletico player.

“(The criticism) should be extra motivation against Atletico,” Xavi told reporters Saturday.

“I see he is motivated and happy, he is being consistent, I am happy with his performance and how he has adapted to the group.”

Barcelona loaned Atletico´s record 126 million euro ($137 million) signing in the summer and after an impressive start, he began to struggle.

Felix scored his first goal in 13 matches against Porto on Tuesday as Barcelona secured qualification to the Champions League last 16.

The victory helped quieten the negative noises around the club after a string of bad performances and Xavi hopes they can build on it against Atletico.

“We have to find our game, the second half against Porto was very good ... we have to be more consistent,” said the coach.

“We can´t say we´re in our best moment of the season, (but) we have had some very good minutes.

“We have to improve our performances and the consequence will be good results.”

Xavi confirmed goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was still sidelined because of back pain and will not feature at the weekend.

Champions Barcelona are fourth after last weekend´s draw at Rayo Vallecano, while Atletico Madrid are third, level with the Catalans on 31 points.