Real Madrid star Eden Hazard accepts he still has to prove he can be considered a so-called galactico after a slow start to life in LaLiga.

Hazard joined Madrid in pre-season in a deal that could reportedly cost up to €140million but a thigh injury suffered last month has proven an early disruption.

Coach Zinedine Zidane stressed the need to be patient with Hazard as they were desperate to avoid aggravating the injury before handing him a first against Paris Saint-Germain on September 18.

But the Belgium international mustered just a single off-target shot and one key pass as Madrid were swept aside with ease at the Parc des Princes, PSG winning 3-0.

He was similarly unspectacular in the subsequent games against Sevilla and Atletico Madrid – either side of being an unused substitute for the win over Osasuna - and Hazard recognises he is yet to earn the right to be regarded as a galactico.

"I am not yet a galactic, I have to be the one to prove that I can be out on the pitch," he told reporters ahead of the Champions League clash with Club Brugge on Tuesday.

"We all know the history of the number seven jersey in this club and I have to be the one to prove that I can be the best in the world.

"I want to enjoy myself on the pitch, give the maximum, not only in games but also in training. I don't doubt myself, I don't doubt my coach. It's all a matter of trust.

"I'm confident and sure everything will work out fine.

"The criticism doesn't affect me. I haven't noticed much. I know when I work to the fullest, everyone expects me to score three goals in each match.

"I think I can do better, I am also critical of myself, but working every day. Maybe I have a little delay because of the injury, but I am 100 percent.

"I now have to demonstrate my level and improve so the fans are proud of me."

Could Massimiliano Allegri be the man to rescue AC Milan?

Marco Giampaolo is under increasing pressure at San Siro after Milan slumped to a fourth defeat in their first six games of the Serie A season.

Allegri led Milan to their last league title in 2010-11 and, now unemployed, he shapes as being a target for the club once more.

 

TOP STORY – MILAN EYE ALLEGRI

Allegri is one of the favourites and the choice of many of AC Milan's leaders to be their next head coach, according to Calciomercato.

The 52-year-old spent three and a half years at Milan before taking over at Juventus, where he won five Serie A titles.

Allegri could be set for a return to Milan, who are struggling in 16th in the table, just one point clear of the relegation zone.

ROUND-UP

Ansu Fati has made an impression with Barcelona early in the season and he could be set for bigger and better things. Cadena SER says the 16-year-old will be included in the pre-list for Spain's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Norway and Sweden in October.

- Staying in Spain, Real Madrid are considering a move for United States star Megan Rapinoe, according to AS. Set to have a women's team starting next year, Madrid are considering trying to sign the Reign FC attacker.

Inter coach Antonio Conte wants to sign Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic, reports Calciomercato. Matic – who is out of contract at the end of the season – has struggled to establish himself in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side this season amid links to Juventus.

- Tuttosport claims Juve will offer out-of-favour midfielder Emre Can to Paris Saint-Germain in exchange for full-back Thomas Meunier.

- With Genoa struggling in the relegation zone, Aurelio Andreazzoli is also under pressure. Sky Sport says the Serie A side made contact with former Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso after being thrashed 4-0 by Lazio.

- Arsenal still want to see Mesut Ozil make a move. The Sun reports the Premier League club want to send the playmaker out on loan and would even contribute to his wages to make a move happen.

- Desperately needing to add to their attack, United are weighing up a move for Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic in January, according to the Mirror. United were heavily linked with the Croatian during the close season.

If Manchester United want to keep Paul Pogba, it is going to cost them.

Pogba wanted to leave Old Trafford as Real Madrid and Juventus circled before the transfer window closed.

Now, Pogba has some personal demands for United.

 

TOP STORY – POGBA MAKES CONTRACT DEMAND

Manchester United star Paul Pogba wants to double his salary to £30million in order to stay at the club, reports Tuttosport.

Pogba eyed an Old Trafford exit prior to the close of the transfer window, with LaLiga giants Real Madrid and former club Juventus interested.

A move did not materialise and now Pogba is looking to secure a new bumper contract in Manchester.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to the Daily Star, England manager Gareth Southgate is Tottenham's first choice to succeed Mauricio Pochettino. The pressure is on at Spurs, who are struggling for form as doubts grow over Pochettino's future in London. Despite Tottenham's dismal start to the season, though, The Sun claims Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is reluctant to part with Pochettino as he feels it would benefit rivals United and Madrid.

- The Express reports West Ham have slapped a £100million price tag on Manchester United and Manchester City target Declan Rice. The Red Devils were linked with the England international during the off-season, however, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were unable to lure Rice to Old Trafford.

Bayern Munich are still interested in injured Manchester City winger Leroy Sane, according to The Sun. Bundesliga champions Bayern were hoping to sign Sane before the Germany international suffered a serious knee injury.

- The Mirror claims Champions League holders Liverpool fear losing manager Jurgen Klopp to Germany. The Premier League leaders believe they will not be able to convince the former Borussia Dortmund boss to stay at Anfield should he be presented with an opportunity to replace Joachim Low.

Madrid are ready to compete with LaLiga rivals Barcelona for the signing of Napoli's Spanish midfielder Fabian Ruiz according to reports from La Gazzetta dello Sport and Mundo Deportivo.

- Manchester United will demand £20million for Dean Henderson after re-signing star goalkeeper David De Gea, says The Sun. England Under-21 keeper Henderson is on loan at Premier League side Sheffield United but dropped a clanger in Saturday's defeat to Liverpool.

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone claimed the "linesman knows" what Sergio Ramos said as the Real Madrid captain found himself at the controversy.

Ramos reportedly insulted the linesman during Saturday's 0-0 El Derbi between rivals Atletico and Madrid at Wanda Metropolitano, where no action was taken amid the allegations.

Atletico's Diego Costa received an eight-game ban for abusing referee Jesus Gil Manzano in the club's loss to Barcelona last season.

Asked about Ramos' comments, Simeone told reporters: "What happens on the pitch stays on the pitch, but the linesman knows what he said."

Neither Atletico nor Madrid could find a way through in the Spanish capital, where the points were shared.

The result left Madrid a point clear atop the table after seven games, ahead of neighbours Atletico.

"In the first half we were dominating the game and we couldn't find any solutions [in finding a goal] at the end," Simeone said.

"We're having a hard time in that aspect. In the second half, [Jan] Oblak saved [Karim] Benzema's header. It was a tight game, with both of us missing what it takes to win the match."

Karim Benzema nearly snatched the victory for Madrid with his headed effort 15 minutes from time, forcing a great save out of Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

Oblak added: "We didn't risk much and neither did they. Neither of us wanted to lose, so I think a draw is the fair result.

"We'll improve in the next matches."

Zinedine Zidane feels Real Madrid did enough to pick up victory against Atletico Madrid in Saturday's El Derbi stalemate.

Madrid created the best chance of the game at Wanda Metropolitano, with Jan Oblak producing a fine save to keep out Karim Benzema's header 15 minutes from time in the goalless draw.

The point was enough to take Zidane's men back above surprise package Granada into top spot in LaLiga, but the Frenchman wanted more from the match.

"We deserved much more, but what I have to do is congratulate the players since we have been supportive again and we kept a clean sheet," he said at his post-match news conference.

"It's not just intensity, but what's important is our strength. We saw a strong Madrid because we didn't concede a chance. We lacked in creativity but we're happy with what we did."

Eden Hazard had another quiet match, the Belgium international failing to register a single shot before being replaced by James Rodriguez in the 77th minute.

Zidane admits Hazard, who joined from Chelsea in June for a fee that could reach €168million, still has some way to go before reaching the levels he hit at his former club. 

"He lacks little things. We have to stick with him. He's done a good job, but we haven't had many chances," he added.

"We have to highlight everyone's work. We'd like him to score because it'll release him, but there are no problems, we're sure it'll come."

Zidane echoed the views of skipper Sergio Ramos, who had mixed feelings after keeping a third league clean sheet in a row.

"These games against Atletico are very physical," Ramos told Movistar at full-time.

"It's one of the most difficult stadiums we have to visit throughout the season and it's important to keep a clean sheet. 

"But in attack it's hard to create chances because they don't leave much space. This point doesn't mean a lot because we wanted three.

"The defensive side of the game is something we've been working on. Everything adds up and I think we're enjoying a good spell."

Madrid return to action on Tuesday with a home match against Club Brugge in the Champions League, before hosting Granada in LaLiga next Saturday.

Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid laboured to an uninspiring goalless draw in El Derbi on Saturday, the city rivals failing to live up to the Wanda Metropolitano stage as each of LaLiga's big hitters continue to stumble over the early season obstacles in the race for the title.

Light on incident but filled with frustrated faces on both sides, the 165th league meeting between Madrid and Atletico was not one that will live long in the memory.

It was, however, indicative of the starts both capital clubs, and indeed defending champions Barcelona, have endured to this point.

While Madrid lead the way and Atletico and Barca are each well positioned to mount a title challenge, by their lofty standards they have each struggled to find top form and all appear gripped by a malaise that will take some time to be lifted.

Seven games into the new season, the comparative records of Madrid, Atletico and Barcelona suggest this is a title race nobody wants to take control of.

Real Madrid: 1st (W4, D3, L0)

Unbeaten but unconvincing, Zinedine Zidane remains a man under pressure at the Santiago Bernabeu and a point away to their neighbours is unlikely to change that.

Held to draws by Real Valladolid and Villarreal, having to come from behind twice in the latter game, Madrid can consider themselves fortunate to have not suffered defeat in the league. Their listless display in a 3-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League produced significant cause for concern that has yet to be assuaged.


Atletico Madrid: 3rd (W4, D2, L1)

Though they lost Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona in the transfer window, the frustration for Atletico boss Diego Simeone will be that this is the second successive season in which they have failed to take advantage of underwhelming starts from the Blaugrana and Madrid. Their performance at the Metropolitano was a far cry from the 7-3 hammering they dished out to Los Blancos in the International Champions Cup, with this display another case of Atletico not producing when it counts.

Simeone's men beat Madrid 4-2 in the UEFA Super Cup last season only to fall flat in the league, and they have now not beaten their arch rivals in seven LaLiga derbies. The hope will be that Atletico's form will improve as star signing Joao Felix grows more comfortable in Spanish football.


Barcelona: 4th (W4, D1, L2)

With Lionel Messi blighted by fitness problems, Barca have looked a long way from their best, and the result has been increased scrutiny on coach Ernesto Valverde. The warning signs were there from the off as Barca were beaten 1-0 by Athletic Bilbao on the first day of the season and they have continued to look vulnerable since.

Osasuna held them to a 2-2 draw while surprise package Granada claimed a shock 2-0 win over the champions last week. Saturday's 2-0 defeat of Getafe marked the first time they have kept a clean sheet in the league this season, with the emergence of teenager Ansu Fati the primary bright spot from a start that was been well below par.

Real Madrid regained top spot in LaLiga with a goalless draw against bitter rivals Atletico Madrid in Saturday's El Derbi.

Karim Benzema nearly snatched the victory for Madrid with his headed effort 15 minutes from time at Wanda Metropolitano, forcing a great save out of Jan Oblak.

Joao Felix and Saul Niguez went closest for Atletico, who registered just one attempt on target as their winless run in competitive meetings with Madrid stretched to a seventh match.

Both teams ultimately lacked quality in the final third, but it is Madrid - who have now gone three matches without conceding in the league - who will be happier after climbing above surprise package Granada at the summit.

Atletico put seven goals past Madrid in July's pre-season clash in New Jersey and looked the more likely side to make a breakthrough in the first half of this latest showdown.

Joao Felix twice went close for the hosts, dragging a shot wide of the target with the angle against him and blasting narrowly wide from 25 yards.

Madrid had some promising moments of their own before the interval, though, with Toni Kroos testing Jan Oblak twice in the space of three minutes late in the half.

Diego Someone introduced Angel Correa at half-time and the substitute headed over from a promising position four minutes after coming on.

Madrid forward Gareth Bale skied a shot soon after and Luka Modric, brought off the bench in an attempt to inspire Madrid, pulled one wide.

The game temporarily sparked into life in the final quarter as Benzema's header was palmed to safety by Oblak, three minutes after Saul glanced agonisingly wide.


What does it mean? Madrid out in front

Barcelona made it back-to-back league wins with a 2-0 win over Getafe earlier on Saturday, offering hope they have turned a corner following their slow start.

It is Real who are out in front at the top of LaLiga, though - this draw moving them one point clear of Atleti and surprise package Granada, while Barca are a further point behind.

Thomas sets the tempo

Making his 100th appearance for Atletico in LaLiga, Thomas Partey won all four of his duels in the first half and completed 95 per cent of his 40 passes, with an impressive 28 of those in the opposition half.

The Ghana midfielder continued to threaten in the second half, too, ending the match with 97 touches of the ball - only Kroos, with 98, managed more

Benzema kept relatively quiet

Benzema entered the match in fine form, having netted five goals in six league outings leading into the clash.

He was kept quiet by Atletico's defenders for 75 minutes, however, managing just 36 touches of the ball and only one shot on target.

What's next?

Atletico travel to Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League in midweek and Madrid host Club Brugge. Upon their return to LaLiga action, Atleti have a trip to Real Valladolid next Sunday and Zidane's men take on Granada a week today.

Atletico Madrid winger Joao Felix says he is relishing the chance to play in one of the biggest matches in world football against Real Madrid.

Joao Felix, 19, played in a pre-season friendly between the sides in New Jersey – which Atletico won 7-3.

However, Saturday's LaLiga clash at the Wanda Metropolitano will be the Portugal international's competitive Madrid derby debut.

"I am very excited to play this game, which is one of the most important in football," he told LaLiga.

"I have already played during the pre-season, but it wasn't official. Now, it will be. I want to enjoy the game to the fullest.

"The fans will be very important for us, as they have been in other games. And they will help you more than ever."

Another player making his debut in the fixture will be England defender Kieran Trippier, and he cannot wait to sample the "electric" Madrid derby atmosphere.

"I'm feeling very excited. It is going to be extra special against Real Madrid," said the 29-year-old.

"It's another derby I'm looking forward to playing in. I've played in some big derbies before in my career in England but I'm expecting this one to be electric.

"In the games I've played in so far this season at our stadium the fans have been incredible so against Real Madrid they are going to be even more vocal. So I'm expecting a lively atmosphere."

Atletico centre-back Jose Gimenez, 24, revealed the build up to the fixture is intense, and emphasised a clear message of victory at all costs.

"The previous week is different and you know this is not another match. You don't come to play, but to win. It doesn't matter the way," he added

"The only important thing is to win. That's been our mentality this week. We know there is not another game. It is one of the games of the season."

Luka Modric has been included in Real Madrid's squad for the derby against Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

The Croatia midfielder, who has been struggling with a muscular complaint, has not featured since the 2-2 draw with Villarreal on September 1.

Marcelo is not yet fit enough to take his place in the squad, however, meaning Nacho is likely to line up at left-back, while Isco is still out injured.

There is also no place in the squad for Rodrygo Goes, who scored on his senior debut in Wednesday's 2-0 win over Osasuna.

The 18-year-old will play for the club's Castilla side on Saturday against Rayo Majadahonda, rather than being involved with the first team at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Christian Eriksen appears set to leave Tottenham and Manchester United could make it happen in January.

The Denmark international was linked with a move away from Spurs during the close season amid reported interest from Real Madrid, but ended up staying in North London.

However, with his contract expiring at season's end, United are said to be weighing up a deal.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UNITED CONSIDER ERIKSEN MOVE IN JANUARY

Manchester United are considering a January move for Spurs midfielder Eriksen, according to Goal.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side are struggling this season and could look to strengthen to begin 2020.

Madrid are also reportedly still interested in Eriksen, but may want to wait until the end of the season to bring in the Dane.

 

ROUND-UP

- Pictured with Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar on Thursday, Arthur may have upset his club Barcelona. The LaLiga champions are unhappy with the midfielder after the night out, according to Marca.

- Staying at Camp Nou and Neymar seems to remain eager for a return to Barcelona. Cadena SER reports the forward would have dropped his lawsuit against the club if they promised to re-sign him next year. Neymar is in court against Barca fighting to be paid a bonus he believes he is owed from his contract signed in 2016.

- Jose Mourinho knows what he wants his next move to be. Having turned down numerous clubs since leaving Old Trafford, Mourinho wants a return to Real Madrid, according to Goal.

- Everton are apparently looking to sign Mario Gotze. The Borussia Dortmund attacker is out of contract at the end of the season and Augsburger Allgemeine says the Premier League club want to sign Gotze on a free transfer.

Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata is set to miss Saturday's derby with his former club Real Madrid after an appeal against a suspension was unsuccessful.

Morata was sent off in Atletico's LaLiga clash with Real Mallorca on Wednesday after being shown two yellow cards in quick succession following an appearance as a substitute.

The Spain international had come off the bench in the 69th minute, and he collected a booking just eight minutes later after a row with referee Alejandro Hernandez.

He was then swiftly involved in a flashpoint with Mallorca's Salva Sevilla which saw the pair square up to each other and exchange angry words before Morata, 26, received a second booking.

Atletico had written to the Spanish FA asking for clemency on Morata's suspension, but the governing body's disciplinary committee decided the one-match ban would not be overturned and fined the club 350 euros.

Diego Simeone's side also had an appeal for a yellow card picked up in the same match by defender Stefan Savic turned down.

"The arguments made by Atletico Madrid are rejected and the reprimands imposed on the said players are confirmed," said a statement from the Spanish FA.

Atletico still have the option to appeal against the decisions made by the committee and should they do so would receive an answer on Saturday morning.

Morata, who is on loan from Chelsea, has scored one goal in four LaLiga appearances for Atletico this season.

He had two spells with Real Madrid, representing the club from 2010 to 2014 and from 2016 to 2017.

Diego Simeone is certain Saturday's Derbi with Real Madrid is in the balance despite Atletico Madrid crushing their bitter rivals 7-3 in pre-season.

The teams met two months ago in New Jersey and Atletico inflicted a humiliating defeat on Zinedine Zidane's men.

Diego Costa scored four goals and Joao Felix caught the eye, with Atletico surging 6-0 up by the 51st minute.

Madrid then endured an initially indifferent start to the season, though three successive wins have elevated them to LaLiga's summit, with Atletico a point adrift.

Simeone was asked in Friday's pre-match news conference whether July's remarkable win combined with Atletico being at home made Los Colchoneros favourites, but the coach is wary of a Madrid side who have shown significant signs of improvement in recent weeks.

"In this type of game, things are usually tight," Simeone told reporters. "They are defined by small details, which balance the matches on one side or the other.

"In the last games they have improved against Sevilla and Osasuna, where they had many changes and continued with the level shown in Seville.

"They have a great squad, a great coach, and we want to take the game where it suits us best.

"They've really good players and they're very dangerous when given space. [Gareth] Bale is improving, [Karim] Benzema is in great form and [Eden] Hazard has incredible attributes.

"They've a strong spine as well. Very little has changed in the players who have been key for years and maintained their place in the team.

"That centre of Casemiro, Sergio Ramos and Benzema, they're important players."

Zinedine Zidane responded in prickly fashion when Real Madrid's pre-season 7-3 thrashing at the hands of Atletico Madrid was brought up on the eve of Saturday's LaLiga Derbi at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Madrid were put to the sword in New Jersey in a match where Zidane felt his side "lacked everything, especially intensity".

The result has not proved entirely instructive over the opening weeks of the season.

Los Blancos have not always convinced but are undefeated in LaLiga and top of the table after six matches.

Diego Simeone's Atletico are only a point behind in third but needed a 2-0 win at Mallorca in midweek to snap a run of three winless games in all competitions.

Speaking at a pre-match news conference, Zidane was asked whether Madrid's ordeal at the MetLife Stadium would have any influence upon the weekend, he replied: "It's nothing to do with the game really, no. We just have a game tomorrow and we're going to try and win"

He then interrupted a follow-up question by saying, "no, I'm going to say the same thing", before claiming not to have watched the match back to analyse Madrid's mistakes.

Despite their solid start in LaLiga, a 3-0 defeat at Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League suggested Zidane's close-season worries about intensity could still undermine Madrid against elite opposition.

Nevertheless, he insisted he would head across Spain's capital without concerns.

"No, no, I'm not worried about anything," he said.

"We just want to put in a good performance, that's it. We know how tough the game is going to be.

"We're going to have to do a lot of things during the game. It's not just about intensity."

Teenage forward Rodrygo Goes will play for Madrid's second-string Castilla side at the weekend despite scoring on his LaLiga debut against Osasuna, although Zidane could welcome back midfielders Luka Modric and Isco following muscular injuries.

Rodrygo Goes will not feature for Real Madrid in El Derbi against Atletico Madrid in LaLiga on Saturday as Zinedine Zidane manages his workload.

The teenage Brazilian forward impressed on his senior debut on Wednesday, scoring Madrid's second goal just 93 seconds after coming on as a substitute in a 2-0 win over Osasuna that put them top.

But Rodrygo will play for the club's second-string Castilla side on Saturday versus Rayo Majadahonda instead of turning out amid the white-hot atmosphere of the Wanda Metropolitano.

"We know what we're doing with Rodrygo and today he trained with Castilla, tomorrow he's going to play with Castilla," head coach Zidane told a pre-match news conference on Friday.

"He's a first-team player and I'm very happy with what happened the other day.

"But we and he knows we're going to go bit by bit with him. We had already taken the decision [over him playing for Castilla this weekend] and for the next game we will see.

"Tomorrow he will play with Castilla and he is very happy."

It means plenty of the onus will fall upon another recent recruit, Eden Hazard.

The Belgium attacker has suffered an injury-interrupted start to life at the Santiago Bernabeu and is yet to play a full 90 minutes after recovering from a hamstring problem.

Hazard was as an unused substitute against Osasuna, but Zidane has no doubts about his capacity to make an impact on the big occasion.

"Listen, we know the quality of player we have and we know that he's going to deliver," he said.

"He did it the other day in Seville. I'm sure everyone expects a lot from him, he knows that.

"We're supporting him, he's with us. Game by game I'm sure he's going to be the player that we want him to be here in this Real Madrid team."

Zidane refused to disclose who would start in goal after Alphonse Areola came in for Thibaut Courtois last time out, while Luka Modric and Isco returning to training following muscular complaints boosts his creative options.

Atletico Madrid host LaLiga leaders and city rivals Real Madrid this weekend with Joao Felix still feeling his way in to life as their club-record signing.

Brought in as a direct replacement for Antoine Griezmann following the France forward's controversial switch to Barcelona, Joao Felix has shown flashes of the brilliance that persuaded Atleti to pay his €126million release clause to buy him from Benfica.

The teenager exploded onto the scene with 15 Primeira Liga goals last season, while he hit a superb hat-trick against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarter-finals.

The expectations on his shoulders at Atletico are a different story, however, with Joao Felix having two goals and an assist to show for his six LaLiga appearances at his new club.

With Zinedine Zidane's unpredictable Madrid visiting the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday and Atleti having not won a home LaLiga derby since 2015, Joao Felix will face the biggest test of his club career to date.


PARTNERSHIP WITH COSTA NEEDS WORK

On paper, Diego Costa looks like an ideal partner for Joao Felix, with his street smarts and aggressive nature aspects the teenager is undoubtedly lacking.

Costa's experience should be invaluable too, with the Brazil-born Spain international having fired Atletico to their most recent title in 2013-14 when he scored a career-best 27 league goals.

But the 30-year-old's form has been a concern for some time, dating back to his return from Premier League side Chelsea, and his opener in Tuesday's 2-0 victory at Real Mallorca was only the second competitive goal he has managed in 2019.

Data from Opta shows Joao Felix has only passed to Costa seven times during their 279 minutes on the pitch together in LaLiga this season, with the ball going in the other direction on just six occasions. Linking up effectively has been a challenge with Joao Felix typically drifting out to the right, where he combines with Koke.

Although Joao Felix also netted in the Mallorca win to send Atleti into the derby on a high note after they drew a blank in back-to-back league games, this must be an area of concern for Diego Simeone, who is without Alvaro Morata through suspension this weekend.

Costa and Joao Felix will surely develop their understanding in time and the duo were extremely effective when Atletico destroyed Madrid 7-3 during the International Champions Cup in pre-season, a game in which Costa scored four goals and was twice assisted by the Portuguese.

Only once have they combined for a goal in LaLiga this term, Costa setting up Joao Felix to spark Atleti's 3-2 comeback win at home to Eibar on September 1, and this needs to improve.


FITNESS ANOTHER POTENTIAL ISSUE

Adapting to a new league physically, as well as making the step up in class, was always going to be a challenge for Joao Felix.

His slight figure is in sharp contrast to the imposingly barrel-chested strike partner Costa, who can bounce defenders out of his way.

Although he produced a brilliant solo run from inside his own half to win a penalty against Getafe on his LaLiga debut, occasionally Joao Felix has been pushed off the ball too easily.

Perhaps this has led to frustrations for the teenager as he has committed seven fouls in his six LaLiga appearances to date, while he has been brought down on eight occasions.

The rough and tumble nature of some matches has also posed a problem. Joao Felix was taken off in the first half of a friendly against Numancia after taking a bang to his hip and some opposition players have seemingly targeted him.

Although Simeone has selected the Portugal international in all six of his LaLiga line-ups this term, while he also started against Juventus in the Champions League, he has been substituted five times.

Confidence is not an issue for Joao Felix, but he has fired more shots off target (six) than on target (five) in the top flight for Atleti, while he has lost possession at an average of 9.83 times per match. Indeed, he has completed 84 passes and 25 have gone astray, a far from impressive ratio, with just two chances created.

Time is on Joao Felix's side, however. At the same stage of the 2018-19 season, Griezmann's last for the Rojiblancos after winning the World Cup with France, he had only scored twice in LaLiga. Joao Felix has matched that tally already.

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