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Diego Costas World Cup twists and turns

12 May 2014 01:16:52

Diego Costas World Cup twists and turns

Playing at a World Cup in the land of your birth is a dream for most footballers, however Diego Costa's road back to Brazil will see him lead the line for their arch-rivals.

Costa made his debut for Brazil against Italy in March 2012. In March of this year he made a new debut against Italy, this time for Spain.

After just two friendly appearances for La Selecao, Costa was allowed under FIFA rules to switch allegiance to Spain. He did that in November of last year and now he will be a key player in the World Cup Group B battles against Netherlands, Chile and Australia.

The nationality changes was one of many twists and turns in the career of the 25-year-old goalscorer.

Signed by Portuguese side Braga when he was just 17, Costa joined Atletico Madrid a year later.

However, it was not until he returned to Atletico with Diego Simeone at the helm after four loan spells at Celta Vigo, Albacete, Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano that he even became a first-team regular at the club.

And last season he scored 20 goals and formed a lethal partnership with Colombian star Radamel Falcao as Atletico beat city rivals Real Madrid for the first time in 14 years to win the Copa del Rey.

This season, in Falcao's absence, he has taken another step up to become the team's talisman and top scorer.

"He will be the best injection Spain will have in Brazil. He is different to everyone else," Simeone said recently.

"He has great physical and mental strength, but can also still improve a lot. The Spanish national team will help him improve as well because it is a different style of play."

Costa failed to shine on his Spanish debut, but he did show flashes to suggest he is able enough technically to cope with his new teammates' tiki-taka style, which is in stark contrast to Atletico's power-based, counter-attacking game.

Should his adaption prove successful he could turn out to be the final piece of the jigsaw for a Spanish side that has won the last two of their three consecutive major tournaments without a central striker in form.

At the 2010 World Cup, David Villa scored his five goals from a wide left position, whilst at the Euros in 2012, Fernando Torres won the competition's golden boot with just three goals and having started just two of six games.

Off the field Costa appears to have been welcomed with open arms by other members of the squad.

"He is a player that I love," said Barcelona full-back Jordi Alba before the Italy game, whilst coach Vicente del Bosque has tried to play down the controversy over Costa's switch of allegiance.

"His is a unique case. He was born in Brazil, but was formed here and has shown in his club that he deserves to come with us, that is why I have called him up," explained the former Real Madrid boss.

However, Costa's volatile temperament could yet be tested. Never one to shy away from confrontation with opposing defenders or fans, he will be under intense scrutiny and is sure to receive a hostile reception from an unforgiving Brazilian public.

For all the positive traits he can bring, should he lose his head Spain's chances of retaining their title could be ruined in an instant.

That is a risk Del Bosque has proven himself ready to take.


AFP

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