Simeone hopes Joao Felix maintains strong start

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Joao Felix has once again started the season positively and Diego Simeone hopes the Atletico Madrid forward can maintain his form this time around.

After his €126million arrival from Benfica, Joao Felix contributed two goals and an assist in his first six LaLiga games for Atletico in 2019-20 but the remainder of his campaign was punctuated by injuries that made it difficult for him to consistently produce.

Atleti started this season by thrashing Granada 6-1, with the Portugal international winning a penalty, assisting a goal for Angel Correa and scoring one of his own in an impressive display.

Although Simeone's side were held to a goalless draw by newly promoted Huesca in midweek, Joao Felix had six attempts on goal and created two chances for his team-mates.

The Atleti boss hopes to see more of the same from Joao Felix when his team entertain Villarreal at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday.

"Last season, in the pre-season, he had the same enthusiasm and joy in the game that he's showing now," Simeone said in a news conference on Friday.

"In the first four or five games, until he suffered the injury, he made a very good start to the season.

"Let's hope he can maintain it, keep growing with the team and we can continue to benefit from a player in whom we have a lot of hope."

Atleti only lost four times in LaLiga last season but drew 16 games as they finished third, 17 points adrift of champions Real Madrid.

Simeone expects his team to improve this term but refuses to take his eyes off the task at hand and focus on long-term goals.

"It is an important season because the players have grown compared to the previous season," he said.

"We will not move away from going game by game… what counts is the game against Villarreal.

"We will face a great team with great footballers who will compete to be among the top positions in the league."