After a brilliant breakout campaign with Benfica and his consequent record-breaking move to Atletico Madrid, João Félix was backed to become an immediate superstar for Portugal.

However, he has struggled to take the next step in his development over the last two years, failing to make a decisive impact for Atletico in La Liga, despite their title win in the 2020/21 campaign. 

The 21-year-old has also not made an impression for the Selecao. He was largely anonymous during their Euro 2020 campaign after being used sparingly by Fernando Santos. After 18 matches Félix only found the net on three occasions, and only two of those goals came in competitive action against Croatia in the Nations League.

Although João Félix has not been able to take the next step forward towards an elite standard in the mould of Kylian Mbappe, the forward will certainly be a significant part of Portugal’s squad for the 2022 World Cup. The Seleção are backed in the football betting odds at 14/1 to win the World Cup for the first time, in what could be Cristiano Ronaldo’s final act at the peak of international football.

In the Euros, Ronaldo was still operating at an extremely high level, scoring five goals to equal Ali Daei's record for the most international goals scored by an individual in football history, and also winning the Golden Boot as the top scorer at Euro 2020 in the process. At the age of 36, he remains one of the most potent strikers in world football and will continue to be a thorn in the side of opposing teams heading into the World Cup in 2022.

However, he needs support in the final third, and other players to do the running around him in that area of the pitch. Ronaldo remains a physical phenomenon, but his legs are not what they were at the peak of his powers. There lies the value that João Félix will present the Seleção at the next tournament.

In his fledgling years, Ronaldo was not a goalscoring machine. Instead, he was a creative force, operating in the final third to open up space for his teammates. In the first 66 caps of his international career, Ronaldo boasted a modest total of 22 goals. He learned the nuances of the game at the highest level before becoming a monster in front of goal.

João Félix has the same opportunity ahead of him both at domestic and international level. He could not hope for better tutors in the form of Ronaldo with Portugal and Luis Suarez at Atletico. Both players are not only excellent finishers but have the guile and craft to contribute to the success of their teammates in the final third along with an outstanding work rate.

Players can reach a certain level on talent alone and João Félix proved that he has the exceptional ability to shine in the Primeira Liga. However, he now needs to round out his game, developing the fine details that separate the good from the great. At the moment, the forward is a solid player for both Atletico and Portugal, but he has the potential to become a great.

The next 18 months will be crucial not only for João Félix, but also the hopes of the Seleção at the 2022 World Cup and beyond.

 

Comments (6)

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Good article. Yes patience is needed. At times, we need to be reminded that Ronaldo was a phenomenon and become the GOAT. We cannot expect every young player like Joao Felix to step into those shoes. I realize its a business, football. ...

Good article. Yes patience is needed. At times, we need to be reminded that Ronaldo was a phenomenon and become the GOAT. We cannot expect every young player like Joao Felix to step into those shoes. I realize its a business, football. I think the agents like Mendes push many of these young players forward too soon to these big clubs and it becomes a step backwards for them.

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Ronaldo was considered a semi bust for the few few years in England actually. His teammates couldnt stand him dribbling all the time and constantly complained he never passed and he actually started very little and made very little impact until...

Ronaldo was considered a semi bust for the few few years in England actually. His teammates couldnt stand him dribbling all the time and constantly complained he never passed and he actually started very little and made very little impact until the third season. I dont know why people seem to think he arrived at 19 and lit the EPL on fire. This was not the case at all. People need to be patient with Felix just as they needed to be with Ronaldo and all young kids changing countries as teenagers with huge expectation weighing on them. Felix has more goal contributions in his first two years with Madrid then Ronaldo did with United and hes under much bigger expectation. And they arrived at the same age. Give the kid a break. Hes Joao Felix not Ronaldo but the fact he gets so much crap and up until now his first 3 seasons are much better then Ronaldos especially when you compare his 18 year old season with benfica to Ronaldos with Sporting. Felix has been more productive all 3 years. Thats a fact

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João Félix is a free flowing kind of footballer. The modern game doesn't suit him well. All these teams do nowadays is safe and boring passes, control the tempo only with bigger and stronger athletes who have little or no actual football skills...

João Félix is a free flowing kind of footballer. The modern game doesn't suit him well. All these teams do nowadays is safe and boring passes, control the tempo only with bigger and stronger athletes who have little or no actual football skills or creativity.. and chase the long balls all day trying to beat the offside trap.. basically what England did all tournament. For Félix to have a successful career his team should built around a naturally gifted and creative mindset with a coach who knows how to properly harness those advantages. To take players on more in 1v1 situations, even quick passes in congested areas instead of punting the ball forward and conceding possession. Yes, there will be more risks when you take players on but when you have a generational talent like Félix at your disposal.. you should be winning those battles more often than not. At least for the sake of keeping the opponent guessing. Hardly anyone focuses on their opposite anymore, it's all about cutting off the passing lanes. Re-incorporate all facets back into the sport and you'll not only have more ways to exploit your opponent but games will be more fascinating in general.

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Well said.

I would like to add a little historical perspective. I remember after the 2006 World Cup, almost all the soccer pundits predicted the big, physical, athletic sides would dominate world soccer for the foreseeable future. Then, along...

Well said.

I would like to add a little historical perspective. I remember after the 2006 World Cup, almost all the soccer pundits predicted the big, physical, athletic sides would dominate world soccer for the foreseeable future. Then, along come Tiki-Taka from Spain. Not that they didn't have any physical and athletic players, they did, but the technical players were the ones that dominated in that style.

My point is, Spain still uses a version of possession soccer and if it weren't for penalties, could have gotten to the final and possibly even been Champs. So, Felix's skill set can still be very valuable today, as you said if used in the right system.

With the under 21's having similar midfield players that thrive in possession soccer, might be a good time to build for the future. It worked for Italy, the system took precedence over players talents. Of course Italy has plenty of talent, but the system came first.

For example in Italy's team, Emerson is 3rd string at Chelsea, as is Bernardeschi at Juve. Locatelli and Berardi are from a small club, Sassuolo and this was Berardi's best year for goals.

Belotti, had a bad year for goals and team almost got related. Not exactly players that make you shake in your boots, but were very effective in the Italian system.

So let's build a proactive identity and incorporate our talent, instead of just being a reactive-counter attacking team. That ship has sailed, we have been found out.

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Felix desperately needs to find a club that suits his style of play. He is without a doubt one of the best young talents in world football, but his quality is being wasted away at Atletico under Simeone. He needs to go to a club that plays...

Felix desperately needs to find a club that suits his style of play. He is without a doubt one of the best young talents in world football, but his quality is being wasted away at Atletico under Simeone. He needs to go to a club that plays proactive, attack-minded football. It doesn't have to be a Champions League contender - just a quality side that best suits his incredible talent.

In terms of talent, he is at a completely different level from that of Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Jota. Bernardo has the football IQ and technique, but Joao Felix is the only guy we have who can regularly pick up the ball in pockets of space in between the lines, beat one or two guys on the dribble, and then play the killer pass to lead to a goal. His vision, his touch, his ability to combine with teammates in quick, intricate passing combinations is second to none on this team. Bernardo and Renato should be the ones tasked with making Portugal tick in midfield, but Joao Felix should be given the freedom to be our primary playmaker if we are to truly get the best out of this current generation of Portuguese talent.

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