Speaking in an exclusive interview with Marca, Atletico Madrid attacker João Félix discussed the club’s upcoming Champions League clash at Lisbon’s Estadio Da Luz in his home country.
After leaving Benfica for Atletico Madrid, the 20-year-old is back where his career began for the quarter-final tie with RB Leipzig.
Would winning the Champions League in your first season at Atletico Madrid be a dream?
Yes, the Champions League is a high point for any player and even more so for me to be playing it here, at home in Lisbon. I’m very happy and it’s good for me.
At 19 you were a star for Benfica, at 20 you’re a pillar of Atleti’s future… doesn’t it become dizzying to break through like that?
No, I live and I play. I’m at Atletico to play football and have fun. If I’m one of the faces of the club then that’s a good thing, but I’m working for the team to succeed.
Diego Simeone shaped Antoine Griezmann from being a good player to a world star. Is that something you want to mirror?
Yes, yes, yes. If I can do what Griezmann has done, I’ll be very happy because he made history at this club and has done very well. He grew a lot with Cholo and if I do the same then good for me.
Do you think that what you do in the Champions League will determine if this season has been good or bad?
No, we just have to focus on this game and then think about the rest after that.
Are Atleti due a Champions League because they lost two finals recently (in 2014 and 2016)?
Yes. The fans, the players and the club love the Champions League. They’ve come very close and not won it and we know that.
What would it mean to play a semi-final and a final at the Da Luz?
It’s a stadium I will always have a lot of affection for. It’s where I scored my first professional goal.
You’re making your debut in the Champions League quarter-finals. Does experience influence a game like this or is it down to talent?
If the whole team were young then maybe, but one, two or three players is okay I think because young players often play with more freedom, like they’re at school. Playing in the Champions League is a high point for anyone, so for me to be in the quarter-finals at 20 is very good and I’m going to enjoy it.
Can you really enjoy yourself out there with so many people watching?
It’s the Champions League. If you don’t enjoy playing, then what’s the point?
RB Leipzig don’t have any experience. Is that favourable for Atletico?
No. They’re a good team who’ve had a good season and it will be difficult. We’ve watched them, and we know what we have to do.