June 22, 2018

World Cup Player Feature: Diego Costa fights for Spain

The Spanish Bull

Full Name: Diego da Silva Costa
Birthdate: October 7, 1988
Place of Birth: Lagarto, Brazil
Team: Spain (La Roja)
Playing years: 2004- Present
Position(s): Striker, Centre-Forward, Left Wing, Right Wing

Awards:

La Liga Player of the Month (September 2013)
Premier League Player of the Month (August 2014, November 2016)

Formative years

Diego Costa was born in Lagarto, Brazil in a lower middle class family. His father named him after the great Argentine player Diego Maradona and it was a sign of sorts in retrospect. As a child, Costa played football in the streets all the time. However, becoming a pro never crossed his mind since they lived in a remote area. At his parents’ advice, Costa moved to Sao Paulo and enrolled in Barcelona Ibiuna. He soon signed to his first European club Braga. He had negotiations with Spain’s Atletico Madrid but he remained on load with the Os Arcebispos. He had a promising first season and was even presented as the new Kaka. He was loaned to other clubs including Celta Vigo and Albacete before joining Real Valladolid.

Notable Skills/Style of Play

– Strong passing and finishing
– Often does layoffs
– Top-notch pace
– Aerial threat
– Prowess in the penalty area

Football Career

Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, and back again

In 2010, Atletico Madrid again secured Costa’s signature. But the striker failed to impress during his first years with the club. He even got suspended for inciting violent behavior on the field. Costa more than made up for the controversies, though. As the Los Rojiblancos reached the 2013 Copa del Rey semi-finals, Costa already netted seven goals and even took it to eight on the finals. He became the tournament’s top scorer, beating opponent Cristiano Ronaldo. By 2014, English club Chelsea announced they’ve closed a deal with Costa. He went on to win the Premier League and the League Cup with The Blues on his first season. In 2017, manager Antonio Conte told Costa he won’t be part of his plans for the upcoming season. Costa then decided to join his former club Atletico Madrid. On his return game, he scored against Club Lleida Esportiu within five minutes of substitution. He also scored Atletico’s only goal in the home win over Arsenal that sent them to the 2018 UEFA Europa League Final.

La Roja and World Cup

Costa first made international appearance for the Brazil national team under head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. But ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the Brazil-born ram confirmed he will play for his adopted homeland Spain instead (He has acquired citizenship through residency). Costa stated it was very difficult on his part to choose between the country he was born in and the country that has given him everything. But in the end, he thought it best to play for the La Roja.

And Spain indeed needed the bullish striker.

Portugal v Spain
Last Friday, on a mere second day of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Spain already treated fans to a thrilling 3-3 draw against Portugal. Diego Costa contributed two goals at 24’ and 55’ before he left the field as a Spanish hero. He led the line and his goals quickened the tempo for the team. In a clash with Costa, usual aggressor Pepe was left in a heap and referee Gianluca Rocchi had to go the officials and see the video assistant referee for foul. Diego’s score was confirmed as a clear goal and it made history as the first ever VAR decision at the World Cup. Ronaldo’s hat-trick cancelled out Costa’s efforts however, and the draw earned the teams one point apiece.

Iran v Spain
Spain took care of business in their second game.

Iran had deep, stubborn defense and it seemed they would hold the 2010 World Cup champions to a scoreless draw. But Diego Costa’s lone, second half goal broke the Persian stonewall (and the hearts of Iranian fans). The opposing defender blocked his goal but the ball ricocheted and still found the net. More than sheer luck, that goal was made possible by an excellent pass from the El Ilusionista himself, Andres Iniesta. The La Roja’s chances of advancing to the next round lives on.

Spain’s next match is scheduled on 25th June, Monday at 19:00 (UTC/GMT +1).

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