Diego Simeone rued Atletico Madrid's injury problems ahead of Wednesday's clash with Granada after Joao Felix was ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Atletico saw their hopes of a top-four finish in LaLiga dealt a blow on Monday when the Portuguese forward announced his season is over after picking up a hamstring injury. 

The 22-year-old has scored eight league goals in 24 games, but just 13 starts for Simeone's team in LaLiga this season, his best return since making a big-money move from Benfica in 2019.

But after going off injured at the halfway point of Atletico's 2-1 win over Espanyol last time out, he will be unable to add to his 10 goals and five assists in all competitions this term, joining the likes of Thomas Lemar on a growing injury list.

Simeone said those injuries have come at a "bad time" as his team look to ensure Champions League qualification for next season, noting Joao Felix was in a "great moment" before sustaining the blow.

"We have lost them [Joao Felix and Lemar], and [Hector] Herrera and Jose [Gimenez] are waiting to join the group, we hope they do so after this match," Simeone told his pre-match press conference. 

"We lost Joao, who was in a great moment, with games, playing in continuity, [it was going] very well for his growth and play, [and] Lemar always gives us something different, in that defence to attack transition.

"It's a shame. They are injuries that come to us at a bad time, but I have other boys waiting to play and everyone is up to the task of continuing to compete as we have been lately."

Last month, the Portugal international became the third-youngest striker to reach 50 appearances in LaLiga for Atletico (aged 20 years and 120 days), after Sergio Aguero (19 years and 162 days) and Fernando Torres (19 years and 310 days).

The forward pledged to "come back stronger" when announcing the news of his injury on social media on Monday evening. 

"Unfortunately, the news is not what I expected, and it is with deep sadness that I find myself unable to help my team in what remains to be played this season," the 22-year-old said in an Instagram post.

"Now I can only support Atleti from the outside, and work hard on my recovery to come back stronger."

Atletico are fourth in LaLiga, leading fifth-placed Real Betis by three points ahead of their home clash against Granada, with Simeone's men winning each of their last four home league games, their longest winning streak at the Wanda Metropolitano this term. 

Joao Felix was one of the brightest prospects in world football when he burst onto the scene with Benfica.

Atletico Madrid had to shell out of one the biggest ever transfer fees to land such a big up-and-coming talent.

Atleti paid Benfica a club-record fee of €126million to bring Joao Felix, then 19, to the Wanda Metropolitano, making the forward the fourth-most expensive footballer of all time.

Antonie Griezmann's move to Barcelona provided Atleti with the funds for such a transfer, though it would be safe to say neither of those players hit the heights that might have been expected.

Indeed, Griezmann is now back at Atleti and playing alongside the man who was brought in to replace him. For Joao Felix it has been a slow burn, but he now appears to be playing at the highest level he has achieved since his move to the Spanish capital.

Manchester City visit the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday with a place in the Champions League semi-finals up for grabs and, though the Premier League leaders hold a 1-0 advantage, it is all to play for.

Joao Felix may just prove to be the decisive figure.

Lofty expectations

Diego Simeone is an incredible coach whose achievements in Madrid cannot be understated. Two LaLiga titles, two Europa League crowns, a Copa del Rey triumph and two Champions League runners-up medals.

Yet, Simeone is hardly renowned for nurturing flair players who thrive at being able to roam the final third; scoring, creating and producing those moments that live long in the memory.

Joao Felix certainly falls into that category of player and it is hard not to imagine just how exciting the Portugal forward – who also plays for a more conservative coach at international level in Fernando Santos – might have been under, for example, Pep Guardiola.

Having scored 20 goals for Benfica across all competitions in the 2018-19 season, he managed just nine from 36 appearances in his first campaign at Atleti, averaging one every 276 minutes.

It was by no means bad for a young player finding his feet for one of Europe's top teams, and one of the most defensive of the elite sides, but living up to such a price tag was always going to be difficult. Until now, perhaps.

Adapting

Simeone will not adapt to his players, they must adapt to his system and slowly, but surely, Joao Felix has got there.

Joao Felix has scored 10 goals and assisted a further five this season in all competitions, already matching the tallies from last season. Ten of those 15 goal involvements have come in his past 12 appearances (seven goals, three assists), as many as in his previous 47 games for the club.

Yet despite being in such a rich vein of form, having scored a double against Deportivo Alaves ahead of Atleti's trip to Manchester last week, his first job at the Etihad Stadium was to defend.

Atleti failed to register a shot in the first leg, making them the first side since APOEL Nicosia (versus Real Madrid in March 2012) to fail to record a single shot in a Champions League match. It was very nearly the perfect defensive showing; only Phil Foden's sublime pass and Kevin De Bruyne's neat finish punctured Atleti's resolve.

Key to Simeone's plan was the work of Joao Felix and Griezmann, who has been directly involved in 67 per cent of Atleti's Champions League goals this season (6/9 – the highest ratio of any player for his team among the eight quarter-finalists).

Given Atleti only had 29.5 per cent possession, Joao Felix spent much of his time on the ball in what would normally be the space filled by the left-back, and only one of his 34 touches came inside City's area.

He did his defensive work diligently, making a team-high five interceptions, going in for nine duels (slightly above his per-game average of 8.1 this season), and was able to at least get City working back the other way with some impressive, surging runs before he was replaced by Thomas Lemar.

Time to shine

Simeone's tactics must change in the second leg, though, if Atleti are to progress, and a more open game could provide Joao Felix with the opportunity to shine.

Only Luis Suarez (13) and Angel Correa (12) have scored more goals for Atleti this season than the 22-year-old, whose 15 goal involvements ranks joint-second in the squad behind Correa.

Joao Felix has netted seven times in 21 Champions League appearances for Atleti, making him the club's top scorer in the competition since the start of the 2019-20 campaign, and Simeone has to find a way to get him into more adventurous positions this time around.

Not that Joao Felix needs to be provided with gilt-edged opportunities. His expected goals (xG) of 6.9 this season in all competitions means he has a +3.1 differential between his xG and his actual tally. In fact, this differential is larger than Kylian Mbappe's (3), Erling Haaland's (2.5) and Paulo Dybala (2.15), and second only to Correa (4.6) in Atleti's team.

Essentially, he is scoring more goals than predicted given the quality of opportunities coming his way, although an expected goals on target (xGOT) of 7.9 suggests he may have benefitted from some goalkeepers not keeping out shots they should have done better with.

Atleti have a supreme talent on their hands who finally seems to be living up to his enormous potential. Lighting up a Champions League quarter-final and sending Simeone's men into the last four just might be the seminal display that Joao Felix needs to prove he can be considered among the very best.

A resurgent Joao Felix is doing everything that Atletico Madrid are asking of him, according to head coach Diego Simeone.

The Portugal international continued his fine form on Saturday with two goals as LaLiga champions Atleti claimed an emphatic 4-1 win over lowly Deportivo Alaves.

Joao Felix has now been involved in eight goals in his last six games in all competitions (six goals, two assists), which is the same as his 33 games before that (four goals, four assists).

Simeone is thrilled with the 22-year-old's contribution and believes he is on the right path after what has been a far from smooth Atleti career so far, since his big-money switch from Benfica in 2019.

"He continues to grow, he's in a great moment," Simeone told Movistar+. "He's happy. He's fine and he's doing everything we need from him."

Luis Suarez came off the bench to score a late double of his own, the first of which came from the penalty spot, and Simeone said the striker is enjoying his role as one of the team's elder statesmen.

"I am very happy for him," Simeone added. "He is in a moment that he has not lived. He is enjoying the hierarchy, the security.

"Before the game he told Joao Felix to score two goals. It's nice. He wants to compete to win. To win, everyone has to be involved."

There was a moving tribute before the game to Simeone's father, Carlos, who died in March, and the Atleti coach was thankful to the club for putting it on.

"Out of respect I will say that I will never forget it," he said. "And a thank you to the club for having done it."

 

Joao Felix had 52 touches in Saturday's win, more than any other Atleti attacker, while his 20 attempted passes in Alaves' half was the second-most and he led the way, along with Yannick Carrasco, for chances created (three).

"We're working well. The team is very good and when that's the case, individuals stand out," Joao Felix said.

"I go in with the same mentality of winning and scoring. At the beginning, I am fresh and I can do a little more. The desire to win and score is in the first minute or in the last.

"It's a natural process for players. Some start playing, others start on the bench. I have never stopped working."

Atleti, who are up to third in LaLiga, travel to England to face Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday.

Atletico Madrid went third in LaLiga after doubles from Joao Felix and Luis Suarez sealed a 4-1 victory over lowly Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

It had looked like Diego Simeone's side would be denied a sixth straight top-flight win when Gonzalo Escalante cancelled out Joao Felix's opener in the 63rd minute. 

However, Suarez's penalty and Joao Felix's second inside wrapped up maximum points at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Suarez prodded in a fourth in the 90th minute as Atleti moved level with second-placed Sevilla on 57 points, although Julen Lopetegui's side do have a game in hand. 

Atleti thought they had opened the scoring in the ninth minute, yet Thomas Lemar's finish was ruled out for offside.

They went ahead two minutes later, though, as an unmarked Joao Felix superbly headed Sime Vrsaljko's cross into Fernando Pacheco's top-left corner.

Yet a sluggish start to the second half meant Atleti had to wait until the hour mark for another clear sight of goal, Marcos Llorente whipping wide from just outside the area. 

Atleti were made to pay when Escalante stole into the area and headed Edgar Mendez's sumptuous cross past Jan Oblak. 

However, Florian Lejeune's foul on substitute Matheus Cunha and Suarez duly slammed his penalty down the middle.

Joao Felix got his second in the 82nd minute with a venomous close-range effort after Cunha's initial shot had been saved.

Suarez added gloss to the scoreline in the 90th minute with a cool finish after being played in by the hugely influential Cunha.

 

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone believes Barcelona president Joan Laporta merely demonstrated his intelligence and good taste by expressing interest in Joao Felix.

The Portuguese attacker has recorded six goal involvements in his last five games in LaLiga – four goals and two assists – which is as many as he managed in his previous 30 games in the competition, when he tallied just three goals and three assists.

Joao Felix is helping his side to a strong run of form as they chase Champions League qualification for another season, impressing not only Simeone.

Earlier this week, Barcelona chief Laporta confirmed an admiration for the 22-year-old, revealing he attempted to engineer a swap for the forward when Antoine Griezmann agreed to leave Camp Nou for Atleti early in the season.

Joao Felix's six league goals this season put him third in Atletico's goalscoring charts behind Angel Correa (11) and Luis Suarez (nine) for the season.

"I live from day to day, from game to game," Simeone told a news conference ahead of Atletico's clash with Alaves.

"[But] it doesn't seem surprising to me that a president as intelligent as Laporta speaks perfectly about Joao. It doesn't surprise me at all.

"He is in a great moment. He feels good, strong, committed to what the team needs, and we always look for that, he is performing and that is why he is playing."

The Atletico boss also confirmed the former Benfica prospect is "fine" and showing "no discomfort" after making two substitute appearances for Portugal during the international break.

Simeone's team are chasing Champions League qualification after winning five consecutive league games, having won just one of their previous 10. They could win six successive games in LaLiga for the first time in over a year – they won eight in a row on a run which ended in January 2021 – when they host Alaves.

Rodrigo de Paul praised Atletico Madrid's attitude and desire after his second-half strike secured a 2-1 win over Cadiz in LaLiga.

Atletico took the lead within two minutes when in-form forward Joao Felix capitalised on a goalkeeping error to score, registering his sixth goal involvement in six league games.

Yet Cadiz drew level when Alvaro Negredo netted a superb header just before half-time.

Despite Diego Simeone's men registering only six shots to Cadiz's 14 throughout the contest, as well as tallying a mere 0.60 expected goals (xG), De Paul swept home his first LaLiga goal after 68 minutes to send last season's champions third in the table.

Javi Serrano received the fastest red card issued to a LaLiga substitute this season, being dismissed four minutes and 49 seconds after entering the fray late on, but Atletico held out for a crucial victory, and De Paul was delighted with the team's character on a difficult evening.

"We pulled it off," the Argentina midfielder told LaLiga TV. "We had the character to do it. We leave happy and wanting to continue improving.

"I don't know if we relaxed with the 1-0. The game took on a different dynamic, Cadiz had to come looking for us. We were well placed but we failed in our passes. 

"The important thing is the attitude, the desire and that is the fourth victory in a row.

"Luckily the goal came. It's nice to score when you help the team."

The Spanish champions have lost on their last two away trips to face English sides in the Champions League, at Chelsea in 2020-21 and Liverpool this season without scoring a goal in either, but De Paul hoped the team's strong domestic form would serve them well at Old Trafford.

"That confidence has to serve us for the match in Manchester," he said. "Hopefully we can have a great match there."

Atletico boss Simeone, meanwhile, was not happy with his side's limp performance, but emphasised the importance of the result as Atletico battle for a top-four finish and a return to the Champions League next season.

"Cadiz controlled the game, not having clear scoring situations, but neither did we, neither pressing, nor winning the second ball, nor making quick transitions", Simeone said.

"[It was] a flat, flat, slow game, without intensity, without recovery, without quick transitions, without winning the second ball. [It was] a little better in the second half, but we need to get back to the situations we've been showing in these last few games.

"In this final stretch of the championship, if I always say that the most important thing is to win, [it is] much more so now."

Atletico now possess a five-point cushion over fifth-placed Real Betis in LaLiga, although Betis possess a game in hand.

Jan Oblak believes Atletico Madrid have turned a corner after battling to a 3-1 victory at Real Betis on Sunday.

Atleti followed up victories over Osasuna and Celta Vigo in LaLiga with three more points at Estadio Benito Villamarin to move above their opponents into fourth place.

Two goals for in-form Joao Felix, either side of Cristian Tello's equaliser deep in first-half stoppage time, was followed up by a late strike by Thomas Lemar.

After winning three league games in a row for the first time this term, Oblak feels confident his side can hold off the chasing pack and secure a Champions League berth.

"This is a different Atletico, we have to continue like this," Oblak told Movistar. "Only in this way can we reach the Champions League. 

"There's a long way to go. All the players and the coaching staff are involved in that. If we continue like this, we have no doubt [of finishing in the top four]."

 

Joao Felix has now scored four goals in his last four appearances in all competitions for Atletico, compared to three goals in his first 23 outings at club level this campaign.

He has scored two or more goals on five occasions for Los Colchoneros, though this is the first such occasion he has managed that since November 2020 against Cadiz.

While his output in front of goal has improved drastically in recent weeks, the Portugal international insists he has performed at a consistent level all campaign.

"Nothing has changed," he said. "I was also doing things well before, but goals were missing. Now they are arriving and I'm hoping to keep it up.

"As a team we are well-connected and clear about our objective. We are performing well and our attitude is good. When that is the case, the quality shows."

Atletico are two points better off than Betis, who slipped from third to fifth this weekend, and are level with Barcelona – 2-1 winners against Elche earlier on Sunday – in third.

Reflecting on a huge victory for his side with the pressure on, head coach Diego Simeone said: "We were facing a rival who is in a very good moment. 

"You have to play with humility, with the same spirit, and go game by game. We will now try to get better."

Joao Felix scored twice as Atletico Madrid beat Real Betis 3-1 at Estadio Benito Villamarin to climb above their opponents into fourth place in LaLiga.

Barcelona's 2-1 win over Elche earlier on Sunday had knocked Betis down to fourth, and Atleti were out of the Champions League qualification berths entirely.

That increased the pressure on Diego Simeone's men to pick up a third win in a row, and they went in front inside two minutes thanks to Joao Felix's tap-in.

Betis substitute Cristian Tello equalised from the final kick of the first half, but Joao Felix netted another just after the hour mark and Thomas Lemar sealed the win for Atleti late on.

Joao Felix opened his account from close range with just 74 seconds on the clock – Atleti's earliest league goal since July 2020 – after being picked out by Angel Correa.

The visitors wasted a big chance to add a second when Yannick Carrasco somehow failed to pick out either Joao Felix or Renan Lodi alongside him in a three-on-one attack.

Soon after Jose Maria Gimenez's headed clearance ricocheted off Paul Akouokou and flew over the bar, Tello had Betis on level terms with a curling first-time shot from 20 yards.

Gimenez headed against the base of the post for Simeone's side, who were having to adjust to losing Correa and Sime Vrsaljko to injury inside the opening half an hour.

Atleti restored their lead with 61 minutes on the clock through another simple finish for Joao Felix, this time after being teed up by Marcos Llorente.

Copa del Rey finalists Betis pushed for a leveller, but tiredness crept in and Antoine Griezmann pulled the ball back for Lemar to seal three vital points for Atletico in the 80th minute.

 

Kieran Trippier has no doubts about Joao Felix's quality after his "unbelievable" header for Atletico Madrid against Manchester United, but he suggested the forward still has work to do to meet Diego Simeone's exacting standards.

Joao Felix's superb diving header gave the Spanish champions the lead in their Champions League clash with the Red Devils, before substitute Anthony Elanga netted to leave the tie finely poised at 1-1 at the halfway point.

The opener represented Joao Felix's 24th goal for Atletico in all competitions but just his second headed goal for the club, with his only previous such effort coming against Cadiz back in November 2020.

Tripper, who left the Wanda Metropolitano for Newcastle United in January, was not surprised by his former team-mate's sublime goal, however.

"It was unbelievable. He can do so many things like that. He has the quality," Trippier told 5 Live.

"We need him to step up, we need him to be the difference. I was surprised they brought him off, because I think that changed the dynamic of the way Atletico Madrid were playing."

Anthony Elanga came off the bench to earn Manchester United a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid.

Joao Felix's early header seemed set to prove decisive at Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday, with United's attack having looked largely blunt throughout.

Indeed, United failed to have a touch in the opposition box in first half of a Champions League game for the first time since at least 2005-06, but Elanga took his chance when it came.

The youngster made Atleti pay for Marcos Llorente's poor miss before half-time, and United will feel they have the edge heading into the second leg on March 15.

Joao Felix opened the scoring after three minutes in Atleti's much-needed win over Osasuna on Saturday and it took the youngster just seven minutes this time around.

Renan Lodi dropped an inviting cross between Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire, with Joao Felix directing a wonderful header in off David de Gea's right-hand post.

Testament to Atleti's dominance, it took until the 37th minute for Cristiano Ronaldo to get a sight of goal, and he dragged well wide from outside the area.

Atleti should have been 2-0 up at half-time, only for Llorente to head against the crossbar from close range after United had been caught out by a well-worked free-kick.

Llorente sliced wide as Atleti picked up where they left off, before Atleti tried an audacious bicycle kick prior to making way for Antoine Griezmann.

A woeful Ronaldo free-kick seemed to have capped a frustrating night for United, but Elanga had other ideas.

Just five minutes after replacing Marcus Rashford, Elanga pounced on Reinildo's mistake to finish coolly beyond the poorly placed Jan Oblak, with United holding on despite Griezmann hitting the bar late on.

Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid has often felt like a never-ending transfer saga, but it appears a resolution might now be in sight.

Los Blancos are apparently confident of getting the Paris Saint-Germain star in 2022 even though their performance did not impress him in the Champions League.

However, Madrid do have a back-up plan.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID CONFIDENT ON MBAPPE BUT MANE IS PLAN B

Real Madrid believe they will win the battle to sign Kylian Mbappe on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain in 2022.

Carlo Ancelotti's side are preparing to announce the deal at the end of the season, according to Goal.

However, should their efforts to sign Mbappe or Erling Haaland fail, Madrid have a back-up plan: Fichajes claims they will submit an offer for Sadio Mane.

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are interested in signing Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid, according to television show El Chiringuito.

Manchester United have been quoted €75million (£62.5m) for RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku, Bild says.

- Meanwhile, United striker Edinson Cavani is ready to listen to an offer to join Botafogo when his contract expires, Goal claims.

- According to Sport, Tottenham have submitted the firmest offer to sign Paulo Dybala from Juventus, but Barcelona and Inter are also interested.

Milan are resigned to losing Franck Kessie after this season and could replace him with Renato Sanches, Tuttosport says.

UEFA has decided to move the Champions League final from St Petersburg, according to the BBC. The game could be held in London.

Atletico Madrid moved into LaLiga's top four with a 3-0 win at Osasuna, as Joao Felix registered a goal and an assist on his 100th appearance for the club.

Joao Felix fired Atletico into an early lead just three minutes into his landmark outing before Luis Suarez scored a fantastic long-range lob after 60 minutes to make the points safe, with Angel Correa adding a late third.

Diego Simeone's team produced a disciplined defensive performance to bounce back from their 1-0 loss to Levante, as the capital club moved three points clear of Villarreal and Barcelona in the race for Champions League football, albeit having played two games more than the latter.

Simeone's men took the lead almost immediately, Joao Felix volleying into the roof of the net after Sergio Herrera spilled an early corner and Osasuna's calls for a foul by Suarez were waved away after a VAR check.

Lucas Torro came close to levelling for the hosts on 37 minutes, heading against the post with Jan Oblak beaten, before Nacho Vidal forced the Atleti shot-stopper into a good save from long range.

Felix's goal was Atletico's only shot of a scrappy first-half, as they looked for an eighth consecutive league win over the side from Pamplona. 

With Osasuna pushing for a leveller against a resolute visiting defence, Suarez netted an astonishing second on the hour mark, lobbing Herrera from all of 40 yards as the visitors broke from an Osasuna corner.

Oblak was never seriously tested in the closing stages, which saw Atletico apply gloss to the scoreline in injury time when substitute Correa delicately lifted the ball beyond Herrera after latching onto Koke's throughball.

Diego Simeone is keeping his fingers crossed that Antoine Griezmann's injury is not too serious after the striker hobbled off in Thursday's 5-0 Copa del Rey win over Rayo Majadahonda.

The France international – who scored his side's fourth after being introduced as a substitute – sustained a thigh injury in last month's derby defeat to Real Madrid before testing positive for COVID-19 last week.

Simeone did not reveal the nature of Griezmann's injury but said he hopes the France international, who left the pitch visibly upset, is not sidelined for long.

"The doctors will inform better than me," he told a media conference. "He is a very important player for us and it is a shame that he was injured again.

"We hope he does not have much time out."

Simeone fielded a strong starting XI for the game, which was played at the Wanda Metropolitano despite Majadahonda being drawn as the home team, and they never looked like they would suffer an upset after Matheus Cunha's early opener.

Renan Lodi and Luis Suarez made it three before the interval, while Griezmann and fellow substitute Joao Felix rounded off the scoring in the second half.

After scoring against Granada in LaLiga before the mid-season break, Joao Felix has now scored in consecutive away games in all competitions for just the second time ever after doing so against Real Mallorca and Lokomotiv Moscow in October 2019.

Simeone was full of praise for the Portugal international and wants to see more of the same from him in the coming weeks.

"It was an extraordinary performance in the second half," the Atleti boss added.

"He has come out with great enthusiasm and everything he has tried has turned out well for him. I'm very happy for him and I'm sure it will be good for us if he continues at this level."

After four defeats in a row before the mid-season break, Atleti have started 2022 with back-to-back wins.

Simeone has been pleased with his side's attitude since their return to action and he does not want them to let up.

"The side has a lot of desire to do things well," he said. "The players have great intensity from minute one to get out of the moment of difficulty that the team was going through.

"Achieving consistency in the league is the most difficult thing and it is what we are trying to do."

Atleti are next in action on Sunday when they visit Villarreal in LaLiga.

Atletico Madrid cruised into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey thanks to a 5-0 rout of Rayo Majadahonda on Thursday.

Diego Simeone fielded a strong starting XI for the game, which was played at the Wanda Metropolitano despite Majadahonda being drawn as the home team, and they never looked like they would suffer an upset after Matheus Cunha's early opener.

Renan Lodi and Luis Suarez then made it three before the interval as the Colchoneros threatened to run riot.

Substitute Griezmann – who later hobbled off with an injury – added a fourth after a fine move, before Joao Felix wrapped up the scoring with a sumptuous finish. 

Atleti's relentless early pressure told after 17 minutes when Matheus Cunha fired home after Yannick Carrasco had blocked an attempted clearance.

Lodi then opened his account for the season nine minutes later, superbly firing into Alvaro Fernandez's top-left corner from 15 yards after being picked out by Thomas Lemar.

Suarez, who had earlier been denied by Fernandez, added a third four minutes before the interval, the Uruguay international slotting home Marcos Llorente's low cross from 12 yards.

Simeone's men started the second half at a sluggish pace, but they added a fourth in the 67th minute when Griezmann slammed the ball into the roof of Fernandez's roof after combining superbly with fellow substitute Angel Correa. 

Joao Felix added further gloss to the scoreline with 11 minutes remaining, cutting in from the left and whipping the ball into the top corner. 


What does it mean? Griezmann injury mars routine win

Given the strength of Simeone's starting XI it was little surprise to see Atleti blow their less illustrious opponents away with consummate ease.

The only blot on their copybook was the injury to Griezmann, who was visibly upset as he walked down the tunnel.

Suarez endures

Suarez's typically composed finish was his first Copa del Rey goal for Atleti and his 20th overall. Since his arrival in Spain ahead of the 2014-15 season, only Lionel Messi (27) has scored more goals in the competition.

Giralt's game cut short

Majadahonda goalkeeper Gorka Giralt was cruelly denied the chance to test himself against some of Spanish football's biggest names after suffering a hand injury inside the first minute. The 26-year-old cut a despondent figure as he walked off the pitch to be replaced by Fernandez.

What's next?

Fourth-placed Atleti return to LaLiga action on Sunday when they visit Villarreal, who sit four places and four points beneath them.

Atletico Madrid confirmed Antoine Griezmann has been granted permission from health authorities to return to training.

Griezmann was among five to test positive for COVID-19 on December 30 along with coach Diego Simeone, Koke, Hector Herrera and Joao Felix.

All of them went into immediate isolation, with only Simeone being able to leave quarantine in time for Sunday's 2-0 LaLiga win over Rayo Vallecano.

But Griezmann has been cleared to return to the training pitch as well after his latest test came back negative, making his a case of "resolved infection".

An Atletico statement read: "Antoine Griezmann has received clearance from LaLiga to return to training.

"The French player represents a case of resolved infection that meets the conditions set by the Strategy for Early Detection, Surveillance and Control of COVID-19 of the Ministry of Health, dated December 19, 2021."

As such, Griezmann could potentially feature against Rayo Majadahonda in the Copa del Rey on Thursday.

Otherwise, he will hope to be involved away to Villarreal on Sunday.

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