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LaLiga 2019/2020: It's time for Diego Costa to be Atletico Madrid's talisman once again

ANALYST
Feature
29 Jul 2019, 18:00 IST

Diego Costa produced a masterclass for Atletico Madrid as they dispatched Real Madrid 7-3 in the ICC
Diego Costa produced a masterclass for Atletico Madrid as they dispatched Real Madrid 7-3 in the ICC

He's brash, he's loud, he's headstrong, he's clinical - these are some of the adjectives used to describe Diego Costa - a true modern footballing bad boy. You can find him on any given matchday running the channels, shouting at referees, giving defenders a horrendous time, and finishing off chances with ruthless precision.

Costa had a largely successful spell at Chelsea, and after a messy transfer affair involving a text message (no thanks to Antonio Conte's fast fingers), Costa arrived once again on the shores of the Iberian peninsula in January 2018, rekindling his professional relationship with his former manager Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid. It was a relationship that ended abruptly in 2014 due to the whims of money-men and agents.

In 2017, Costa's importance to El Cholo was underlined by reports of the gaffer insisting during contract renewal negotiations that a deal to bring back the Brazil-born goal-getter should be completed. That's understandable, as Costa was an integral part of Atleti's revolution under El Cholo.

El Cholo - Atletico Madrid manager
El Cholo - Atletico Madrid manager

In Costa's first spell at Atleti, the capital club gave the traditional powerhouses of Barcelona and Real Madrid a run for their money, sensationally ending up as Spanish champions in 2014.

Costa's playing style was essential back then, as it transformed Atleti from a courageous cup-winning side to a dogged league-winning side that could snatch narrow victories when needed.

Costa's second coming has been somewhat anticlimactic so far, with his contribution of 5 goals in 31 LaLiga games as at the time of writing being distant from the lofty standards he set during his first spell at the Spanish capital.

Antoine Griezmann was the man brought in to fill Diego Costa's void, and although he was a winger shouldering the responsibilities of a traditional striker, his contribution of 133 goals in 257 games was laudable.

Antoine Griezmann - Off to pastures new
Antoine Griezmann - Off to pastures new
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However, he never really led Atleti to the heights they attained during Costa's first spell, and El Cholo was hoping Griezmann and Costa could forge a formidable partnership. That didn't go according to expectation, and with Griezmann's move to the Catalan capital, the onus is now on Costa to deliver the goods upfront.

Last week against Real Madrid in a pre-season friendly, Costa gave us a glimpse of what he's made of.

The Spanish goal-getter hit 4 goals past Real Madrid, including a first-half hat-trick. He ended up getting sent off for an altercation in the second half. Diego Costa at his very best, and his lowest - both hero and villain in the same breath.

In the warm-up match, we observed what seemed like the embers of a budding partnership, as Costa linked up with the young Joao Felix to score 2 of his 4 goals. The highly-rated Portuguese international was bought for a staggering £113 million, making him the 4th most expensive signing on record.

Joao Felix - Prodigy
Joao Felix - Prodigy

Felix was in sizzling form during the game, darting and turning past opposition defenders, as well as laying crucial passes for his teammates. The teenager is undoubtedly a gem, and El Cholo will be hoping his Griezmann replacement can forge a formidable understanding with the irrepressible Costa.

Perhaps we are on the cusp of another Diego Costa-led Atleti revolution, and we got a taste of what is to come last week as they humiliated their eternal rivals.

For that to be a reality, Simeone will need to fan the flames of the budding Costa and Felix partnership, and the volatile striker will need to produce more of the same masterclass, however, unleashing more of his inner-hero and suppressing his base instincts.

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