Bad news has arrived for fans of the 2014 World Cup hosts after Spain completed the registration of Brazil-born Atlético Madrid forward Diego Costa. La Furia Roja had chased his registration for some time since he moved to Europe in 2006, and following his blistering start to La Liga this season, he will be only too happy to add to the ranks of possibly the greatest international side of all time.
Costa had made two friendly appearances for his native Brazil against Italy and Russia earlier in the year, but international status is only 100% cemented after making a competitive appearance. With Luiz Felipe Scolari leaving him out of the squad for Brazil’s victorious Confederations Cup campaign over the summer, the 25 year-old saw Spain as his natural alternative, having played there for seven years. The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) has been supportive in allowing him to switch nationalities, stating:
“The CBF believes in free will. If a player wants to play here or there, we will not be the entity that will say no.”
With a wealth of attacking options including Neymar, Fred, Jô, Alexandre Pato, and Leandro Damião, Scolari may feel that he will not be missing out on yet another striker. But aside from Neymar, who made the long-awaited switch to Catalan Giants Barcelona over the summer, it is hard to see any of the other names mentioned hitting the heights that Costa has seen this season.
Following the departure of Colombian superstar Falcao to nouveau-riche AS Monaco this past May, Atlético were expected to have some to struggle to adapt to life without El Tigre over the coming season. However, Los Rojiblancos have discovered a new hero in Costa, with the controversial forward netting ten goals in his opening eight games to lead Messi and Ronaldo at the top of the scoring stakes.
Atlético sit joint-top of the table with eight wins from eight matches including a Madrid derby against neighbors Real, who showed off their newest Galactico, Gareth Bale. Costa netted in that game yet again, just as he had in their Copa Del Rey final victory over Real just a few months prior to that. He clearly has the appetite for the big games, something which will come in handy fighting against Roberto Soldado, Alvaro Negredo, Fernando Torres, and Atlético team-mate David Villa for a place in a team that often plays without a natural striker.
Diego Costa is something of a late developer at age 25, having spent four of the last six seasons out on loan in Spain’s Segunda Liga Adelante at clubs like Albacete and Celta Vigo. He had never been hugely prolific but scored goals consistently at every club, including nine in sixteen games for Rayo Vallecano in 2012. His promise was clear from an early age, it just took the pressure of the departure of one of the world’s best center-forwards to fulfill his promise. Spain’s diminutive midfield string-puller Andrés Iniesta has welcomed the acquisition of Costa with open arms, telling Spanish radio station Cadena SER:
“If Diego Costa can be here and the coach thinks he’s fit – as a player he’s showing that he’s virtually unbeatable. If he comes, he’ll be just another on the team. The player’s performance is what makes you part of the team.”
Spain have had a very successful World Cup qualifying campaign, finishing undefeated with six wins and just two draws against France and Finland. After Spain successfully secured their place in the World Cup following a win over Georgia last night, head coach Vicente del Bosque confirmed that he plans to call Diego Costa this week to discuss the situation and a potential call up to the Spanish National Team. Ironically, the World Champions’ only defeat in their last eleven competitive matches was a 3-0 loss to Brazil in the Confederations Cup final, but with an in-form Costa now at their disposal, Spain may be even tougher to conquer with the prolific Brazilian leading the strike force.