It is surely the most incredible choice a footballer will ever have to make. Would you like to play international football for Brazil or Spain? Well that is the decision that Diego Costa had to make, and this World Cup may have shown that he made the wrong choice.
Diego Costa was born in Lagarto, Brazil in 1988 and even represented his country of birth twice in 2013, but having played a large portion of his club career in Spain he was granted citizenship. He then chose to play for his adopted country, turning his back on the famous green and yellow and the chance to play in a home World Cup.
This has turned out to potentially be a very bad decision as Spain crash out of the tournament after just two games and the hosts Brazil are still there and should qualify for the knockout stages. Now I appreciate that this should have nothing to do with the assessment of whether Costa made the right decision but it is actually more relevant than one might think.
Spain failed to play anywhere near the level that has seen them dominate international football for the last eight years. They looked out of ideas and like the cohesion that has underpinned their success has disappeared. Xabi Alonso looked uncharacteristically out of sorts, Andres Iniesta played at his usual high tempo but with no end product and the back two of Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos appeared to have never met before. Iker Casillas also had two poor games, but for the real wink link of the Spain side was in fact Costa.
The Atletico Madrid forward looked like an impostor, an intruder in the house that Spanish football built, and failed to muster a single shot on target in two games. I believe that Costa is a wonderful player but, he is not the type of player that fits into the style of play that Spain adopt.
At club level, Atletico are a very solid side who play very well defensively. They have high intensity and pressure the opposition with Costa providing a big, bruising outlet for the creative players like Koke to find. He leads the line like a true centre forward and looks like he is supposed to be there. He is a skilful footballer and a very good goalscorer but all the components have to be around him.
Spain play with incredible creative midfielders who can carve out chances with expert passing and starving the opposition of possession in order to create gaps to exploit. As those gaps are found, they need a quick forward who can be on the shoulder of the final man to capitalise. That is why strikers like Fernando Torres and David Villa have been so successful and players like Fernando Llorente have not as much, despite devastating club form.
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