Diego Costa has scored 38 percent of his team’s league goals, highest among La Liga’s top 10 scorers, but thanks to a thigh injury that kept the Atletico Madrid striker out of Friday training, Spain’s leaders may be without their top scorer when Malaga visits on Sunday.
Costa reportedly returned to training on Saturday after taking the previous day off to have an MRI, but given the Colchoneros’ run-in, head coach Diego Simeone may choose to be cautious. Though Atletico have a chance to win the title tomorrow, clinching at the Vicente Calderon would require Barcelona to drop points at Elche. More likely than not, Atleti will need a healthy Costa on the 18th when they close the season at the Nou Camp.
If Simeone exercises that caution, he’ll be excluding a player that’s provided 27 goals, but the Atletico boss won’t lack options. David Villa has scored 13 times in 34 appearances, Raul Garcia is scoring once every 175 league minutes, while Koke has six goals this season. If Atletico misses Costa at home against 13th place Malaga, it will have less to do with the talented striker than the performance of his teammates.
Atletico can clinch its first title since 1996 with a win and a draw or loss from Barcelona at Elche. If Atleti and Barca each win on Sunday, a draw in Catalonia on the 18th will be enough to give Atletico the title.
It isn’t Dortmund, but that’s a good thing for Liverpool.
Our own Joe Prince-Wright was on the scene for Jurgen Klopp’s unveiling as the latest Reds manager, and the 48-year-old German had a lot to say.
Perhaps most poignant for Liverpool fans are Klopp’s words on the talent he inherits from Brendan Rodgers. Sure there are quips that will hit the headlines, but how about Klopp’s assertion that success shouldn’t take nearly as long as his dramatic work at BVB.
From JPW on Merseyside:
“We did in Dortmund what we had to do, to improve the players, to work for a common idea of play. That is what we did and its the same thing we want to do here. They are not the same players of course,” Klopp told NBC Sports ProSoccerTalk. “These players from Liverpool are better, more experienced in some ways and younger in other cases. Everything is okay, I am here. I am not here only because LFC was calling. I believe in the potential of this team. Four or five strikers you can work with when they are not injured, midfielders is really good, defenders experienced and very young, goalkeeper is really good. Everything is there.”
Everything. A powerful word and one that doesn’t get lost in translation. Liverpool has a batch of world class talent, and Klopp’s is anxious to organize it in world class fashion. Strap in, Anfield.
So here we go: the biggest rivalry in U.S. Soccer, the one that sends fans racing for the stadia for a glimpse of history.
It’s the U.S. and Mexico for the right to go to the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, and it will play out at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night.
National pride is on the line, and national jobs may rightly be in jeopardy. Let’s swing through our coverage, and what’s at stake in just over 24 hours time.
Who is the key to Saturday’s match? Is it Michael Bradley? Fabian Johnson? Andres Guardado? Will Klinsmann opt for players with Liga MX experience, stay Euro Heavy, or appease the domestic set? Read more here.
So how will Klinsmann line ’em up? JPW has his preference, some options, and a prediction of what the manager will do.
What are the chances this one finds its way into the upper echelon of matches in the Mexico/U.S. rivalry? This is the company it could join.
The folks in the anti-Klinsmann brigade seethe with pure detestation of the USMNT boss. Any quote from him is self-serving and dishonest, any success accidental. Beat Germany or the Netherlands in friendlies on the road? Coincidental and Unimportant. Lose a friendly to Brazil? The worst thing ever.
[ MORE: The case for firing Klinsmann after a loss ]
So this match, being meaningful and testing his unbeaten mark vs Mexico, is going to be a clarion call for U.S. Soccer fans. Barring a cataclysmic loss in horrific blowout fashion, he won’t be canned. But a win will be validation for his supporters while a loss would cue a genuine hot seat. And for his detractors, already foaming at the mouth from the words of icon Landon Donovan? Kablammo.