Diego Costa is a pale imitation of the striker who lit up the Premier League last season… Chelsea will hope the goals haven’t dried up as attacker struggles for form and fitness
- Diego Costa scored seven in his first four Premier League games last term
- However, the Chelsea forward has managed just one strike this season
- The forward has come in for criticism after failing to impress for Spain
Well, that didn’t take long. Just eight games into his international career for Spain and Diego Costa is already being bombarded with criticism.
After again drawing a blank for his adopted national team in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Slovakia in Euro 2016 qualifying, Costa was seemingly the only topic of conversation.
His coach Vicente del Bosque pleaded for patience, saying he believed Costa had the ‘most difficult job’ on the pitch and reiterating his belief that the goals will be flooding in soon.
Diego Costa has been bombarded with criticism after struggling to impress in his first eight games for Spain
Costa again drew a blank for his adopted national team in 2-0 win over Slovakia in Euro 2016 qualifying
Costa has struggled for form this season and looks a pale imitation of the striker who impressed last season
DIEGO COSTA COMPARISON
August 18 – Burnley (A) 3-1 (1 goal)
August 23 – Leicester City (H) 2-0 (1 goal)
August 30 – Everton (A) 6-3 (2 goals)
September – 13 Swansea (H) 4-2 (3 goals)
First four league games – 7 goals
August 8 – Swansea (H) 2-2 (0 goals)
August 16 – Manchester City (A) 0-3 (0 goals)
August 23 – West Bromwich (A) 3-2 (1 goal)
August 29 – Crystal Palace (H) 1-2 (0 goals)
September 5 – Slovakia (H) 2-0 (0 goals)
First five games for club and country – 1 goal
Chelsea colleague Cesc Fabregas also sprung to his defence, reminding the restless Spanish fans of his outstanding goal record last season.
But they were unlikely to sway the pervading mood that Costa’s irresistible form of 12 months ago might as well be ancient history compared to his current travails.
The whole perception of the 26-year-old has switched in a matter of months from appreciation at his deadly abilities in front of goal to derision at the fighting, profligacy and now diving that has crept into his game.
Del Bosque, having invested plenty of faith in Costa since his decision to turn his back on Brazil in favour of Spain, was struggling for anything positive, saying merely that he ‘kept the defenders busy.’
Fabregas pointed out that Costa did win Spain’s penalty, converted by Andres Iniesta, but replays suggested that he conned the referee by forcing contact with the Slovakia keeper Matus Kozacik.
It wasn’t cutting any ice with the smattering of supporters in Oviedo who jeered when Del Bosque replaced him with Paco Alcacer with 15 minutes to go.
Cesc Fabregas believes Costa is ‘a great striker’ despite firing blanks on international duty with Spain
Costa (second left) did not score for Spain on Saturday night, but did manage to win a penalty for his side
For them, Costa’s eighth international cap was a non-event. Given Spain’s dominance against modest opposition, for Costa to only carve out a couple of half-chances did not remotely suggest he can be their match-winner against more esteemed opposition at next summer’s finals.
Costa has lost the spark that endeared him so quickly to Chelsea fans when he arrived from Atletico Madrid last summer and you have to wonder why.
It’s not just the single goal from his first eight matches for Spain – and that came against lowly Luxembourg in a match where he spurned countless other openings.
Costa’s only goal of the season so far came in the 3-2 away victory against West Brom at The Hawthorns
The current season has been one of frustration for Costa with the striker managing just one goal this campaign
Costa is crowded out by Yohan Cabaye and Scott Dann as Chelsea lost to Crystal Palace last weekend
It’s also the slow start to the campaign with Chelsea which has yielded a tap-in at West Brom and nothing else. This time a year ago, Costa had scored seven goals.
Having seen last season curtailed by serious injury and speculation over his future only quelled by the closing of the transfer window, it’s been a trying period.
Doubts linger about his fitness and how many consecutive games he’ll actually be able to play once the Champions League and cup competitions return.
There is a fear his hamstring will go at any moment, though Jose Mourinho has better alternatives up front now Radamel Falcao and Pedro have arrived.
And Chelsea’s sub-par start to their title defence has magnified the less attractive side to Costa’s game.
Costa made an instant impact at Stamford Bridge last season and had scored seven goals this time last term
While often sinned again, such as Manchester City’s Fernandinho caught him with an elbow, Costa certainly gives as good as he gets.
He plays in an old-fashioned, bruiser style, bullying defenders before they can nobble him, and it’s little wonder Chelsea fans call him the ‘Guv’nor’.
As long as this goal drought continues, more and more attention will be drawn to Costa’s physicality, which has allowed him to survive in the Premier League.
Costa celebrates scoring Chelsea’s final goal in the 6-3 demolition of Everton at Goodison Park last August
This international break was meant to kick-start his season. Ideally, Costa would have gone away, banged in a few goals against modest opposition in Slovakia and Macedonia and returned to do likewise for Chelsea.
Instead, the scrutiny on him has only intensified. It’s never a promising sign when your coach has to come out and defend your performance and Del Bosque may bow to fan pressure and omit him from the team in Skopje on Tuesday.
At the moment, it’s worrying for both club and country that Costa looked a pale imitation of the man dominating defences a year ago. They will hope and pray it’s just a temporary blip and not the start of a decline.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3224236/Diego-Costa-pale-imitation-striker-lit-Premier-League-season-Chelsea-hope-goals-haven-t-dried-attacker-struggles-form-fitness.html#ixzz3l17ae6S6