Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann: The twin towers on which Atletico's success lies
Costa just made his second debut for Atletico Madrid, and pairing him with Antoine Griezmann could be the key to success for Diego Simeone
Diego Costa made his long-awaited second debut on the 4th of January 2018 for Los Colchoneros when he was brought in as a second-half substitute.
He scored 5 minutes into his introduction, gelling back with the team as though he never went away, he had swapped London for Madrid in a £57m move last summer but couldn't play alongside his new teammates, if most of them can be called new, due to the registration ban placed on the club.
Stuck in limbo, he had been forced to train with the team and watch them play from the director's box, it was damaging for the player who only wanted to play, his smiling eyes surely belying his crying soul.
Why Atletico need Diego Costa
Antoine Griezmann, meanwhile, was signed with the ‘Diego Costa’ money, the club making a smart purchase with the funds recouped from Costa's initial £32 million move to Chelsea. The Frenchman, under Diego Simeone, has developed into one of the world's best players, leading both club and country to major finals in 2016, losing both in excruciating fashion.
Nevertheless, his achievements in 2016 elevated his position as one of the best attackers, he came third in the Ballon d'Or voting for the year behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi - no small feat.
The 2017/18 season began with a drop in expectations for Atletico Madrid, with the transfer ban rendering them impotent in the transfer market. They signed players, but were unable to use them, and it became a familiar sight to watch them labour through games, their dependence on Griezmann all too familiar.
In times past, he could have been trusted to take the gauntlet, but not now when his form deserted him and it seemed like his soul and heart were not where his body was.
They fell against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League, a game many had predicted as the key game in the fight to top the group, and they failed to get any form of conviction in the league either, stuttering through draws as they fell behind in the quest to keep up in the title race.
The loss in the Champions League was compounded with draws against whipping boys, Qarabag, failing to defeat the club over two legs - unheard of for an Atletico side.
New arrivals should help Atletico Madrid bounce back
The winter arrivals of Costa and Vitolo could not have come at a better time, their arrival means there's a good feel about the club.
They're second in the league, they have a foot in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey, and even though they dropped from the Champions League into the Europa League, the arrival of both players mean they have instantly become one of the favorites to win the competition - one with which Diego Simeone made his name.
However, the real joy coursing through the Atleti faithful lie in the eagerness to see the Costa-Griezmann combo flourish.
Two elite strikers ably supported by excellent midfielders in Koke, Saul Ñiguez et al., the side can only get better, the sight of Griezmann's flair complementing Costa's fight is going to prove too much for opposing defences to handle.
The striking options have a near perfect understanding with the midfield, they perfectly understand what Simeone wants from his forwards, and either striker can afford to have a rare off-day as he knows there's going to be another person picking up the baton.
Defences had problems keeping up with Griezmann's movements and finishing, and will now have Costa's clinical ability, guile and troubles to handle as well.
If all goes as planned, Simeone and the Colchoneros faithful can lick their lips while the opposition defenders will have to lick their wounds.