Diego Costa is back, and nothing has changed. He’s in the goals and he’s in the wars.
It was 18 minutes into the second half of Atleico’s 4-0 cup win over third tier side Lleida when Atletico‘s new No 18 trotted on followed by Antoine Griezmann – the dynamic duo Diego Simeone hopes will fire the club to trophies this season.
It took him five minutes to score with almost his first touch and no sooner had he been mobbed by celebrating team-mates than he was being treated off the pitch.
He had sustained an injury to his right shin as he knocked into a defender in the area to convert from the edge of the six-yard box.
Costa hobbled around the perimeter and after consultation with Simeone and Atletico’s fitness coach Oscar Ortega he asked to be allowed to go back on.
It had been 221 days since he last walked off the field for Chelsea and it’s been a tough road back for the Brazilian who turned up in Madrid at the end of last September after three months spent in his home town of Lagarto in Brazil, in dispute with Chelsea.
He arrived in Madrid eight kilos overweight and a grueling specially designed pre-season overseen by Ortega even involved several boxing sessions in the Madrid gym owned by Fernando Torres.
Little surprise then that he delivered the knockout blow on his return to football, although by the time he had made his entrance Atletico Madrid had already taken a two goal lead with Diego Godin heading in Yannick Carrasco’s cross on 32 minutes and Torres doubling the advantage four minutes later.
Costa could be seen warming up at half time with Griezmann. Simeone’s masterplan is that those two take Atletico Madrid to trophy success this season.
His arrival has come too late for the Champions League but they are favourites in the Europa League, still in touch with leaders Barcelona in La Liga, and they now have one foot in the Spanish Cup quarter-finals after this first leg win. Griezmann added the fourth with a deflected free-kick.
Ortega, who also had Costa on a strict five-small meals a day diet to shed the stones, has not left his side these past four months and he was still man-marking Costa at the start of the second period as he warmed-up in the corner by the 200 or so Atletico supporters.
Simeone’s first change was Atletico’s other new signing Vitolo, who replaced Carrasco. But Costa finally got the call and when he did he disappointed no-one. There was even some nose to nose off-the ball tension with Lleida’s Jorge Felix as Atletico ran the clock down.
Simeone said: ‘He brought enthusiasm when he came on’
It’s as if he’s never been away.
Source: Daily Mail');