Diego Costa is one of the fiercest competitors to ever play in the Premier League.
While zero red cards in 89 English top-flight appearances hardly paints Costa as your typical bad boy, there’s no denying that he amassed more than a few enemies during his time at Chelsea.
Besides, not only did Costa establish himself as the Blues’ finest centre forward of the post-Didier Drogba era, but he did so in a way that left Premier League defences ironed out on the pitch.
The unstoppable nature of Costa
Like any great striker, the Spaniard had superb physical attributes with his menacing strength and underrated turn of pace, but he also upgraded those traits with – how shall we say it? – an element of gamesmanship.
The brave new world of VAR must have been a scary one for Costa because seldom did a game go by during his stint at Stamford Bridge without the threat of him facing a retrospective ban.
The 33-year-old would try every trick in the book to get the better of his opponents from fair and legal one-on-one battles to the sort of stamps, blows and wipeouts that get the FA wagging their finger.
As such, Costa quickly settled into the combative nature of the Premier League in a way that made him more than a match for adversaries such as Toby Alderweireld, Laurent Koscielny, Martin Skrtel and beyond.
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Costa meets his match in Kompany
However, even Superman has his Kryptonite, so we can’t pretend as though the two-time Premier League winner didn’t come across central defenders who got the better of him across his three years in England.
And there’s good reason to think that nobody dealt with Costa better than a certain Vincent Kompany, who captained Manchester City to the English league title no less than four times during his stellar career.
Kompany is rightfully regarded as one of the greatest Premier League defenders of all time and also happened to possess many of the physical attributes required to keep Costa on lock.
In fact, you only have to look at the video proof to get an idea about how brilliantly Kompany could shackle Costa with the finest example coming in Chelsea’s trip to the Etihad Stadium in 2014/15.
Costa’s one-on-one battle with Kompany
While the game might be most famous for Frank Lampard scoring against his former side, it’s worth remembering the moment that Kompany and Costa went head-to-head in an old-fashioned tussle.
And not only did the City captain manage to nick the ball off Costa, but he remarkably maintained possession and even won a foul despite the Chelsea forward giving his all to win the ball back.
In fact, such was the Titanic nature of Kompany’s shielding that Costa paid his respects to the Citizens legend after the incident as opposed to getting in his face as you might have expected – check it out:
When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, it turns out that immovable object wins.
While we couldn’t possibly put words in Costa’s mouth, it’s hard not to watch back that clip and infer that the former Brazil international couldn’t help but tip his hat to Kompany having engaged in such a tough battle.
It’s almost as though Costa saw some of himself in the Belgian enforcer for having used his warrior’s spirit; not backed down from a tussle and refused to go down like a sack of bricks when he easily could have done.
Two seasons later and Costa did manage to exact an element of revenge when he appeared to kick out at Kompany in a controversial incident that the FA decided not to take retrospective action against.
Nevertheless, the Chelsea striker will have known long before then that even a modern-day gladiator like himself had met their match when it came to battling Kompany.