Atletico Madrid look to have suffered a huge blow ahead of the UEFA Champions League final against Real Madrid this Saturday in Lisbon: top scorer and talisman Diego Costa is reportedly out through injury.
Costa, 25, hobbled off during Atleti’s title-decider against Barcelona last Sunday and although his team pulled through and won the La Liga title thanks to a 1-1 draw in the Nou Camp, Costa’s hamstring injury was in the back of everyone’s minds.
Atletico head coach Diego Simeone tried to stay positive when asked about the injury but it is believed that Costa’s chances of making the final are slim.
If it turns out that the 35 goal hotshot will not be fit to face Real in the UCL final and the severity of his hamstring strain could also rule him out of Spain’s World Cup squad. Only time will tell how long it will take to recover but Atletico confirmed that Costa has suffered a “a grade I injury to his femoral biceps muscle” in his right hamstring. That type of injury takes at least two weeks to recover from. Our friends over at Soccerly state that Costa should be okay to compete at the World Cup this summer but his reoccurring hamstring issues will worry Spanish boss Vicente del Bosque.
The Brazilian born striker, who has scored 54 goals in 87 appearances for Atletico, has been pivotal in the success of Simeone’s side and is now set to miss the chance to hand Atletico Madrid their first-ever European title in club history. Bitter rivals Real will be rubbing their hands with glee as news of Costa’s injury filters through.
Other Atletico players have stepped up to the plate this season with David Villa and Raul Garcia adding 26 goals between them but Costa’s important to Atleti is about more than goals. When you watch his tireless performances closely as their lone forward, you appreciate just how much effort he puts in off the ball. His runs into the channels draw defenders away and allow midfielder such as Garcia, Turan and others to find pockets of spaces to score and cause problems.
If Costa, as expected, does miss the UCL final then Atletico’s chances of winning the crown have diminished substantially.
Struggling Swansea City host high-flying Liverpool (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports) at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
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Swansea haven’t won since the opening day of the season with manager Francesco Guidolin under intense pressure, while Liverpool has won three-straight games in the Premier League as Jurgen Klopp‘s methods are blowing opponents away.
In team news striker Borja Baston makes his first start for Swansea, while Liverpool bring back Dejan Lovren.
Swansea City: Fabianski; Rangel, van der Horn, Amat, Naughton; Britton, Cork, Fer; Routledge, Borja, Sigurdsson. Subs: Nordfeldt, Mawson, Taylor, Fulton, Ki, Barrow, McBurnie
Liverpool: Karius, Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Henderson, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Mane, Coutinho; Firmino. Subs: Mignolet, Sturridge, Klavan, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Origi
The game in 100 words (or less): With one goal already accomplished for New York City FC this season, Patrick Vieira’s group made positive strides in capturing another on Friday night in Houston. David Villa’s 20th and 21st tallies of the season gave the visitors the lead after halftime and NYCFC managed to hold onto the points from there. With just two matches remaining following the win over the Dynamo, NYCFC currently sits atop the Eastern Conference on 51 points. Meanwhile, the Dynamo remain nine points out of the final spot in the West with four matches to play.
[ MORE: NYCFC’s Vieira gets big praise from Dynamo counterpart ]
Three moments that mattered
27′ — Harrison tests Willis from distance — Chances were at a minimum in the opening stanza, but Joe Willis had to get down quickly here to deny Jack Harrison on this blast.
52′ — Villa hits his 20th on the season — The Dynamo defense won’t be pleased when they watch this one again, but in his typical fashion, David Villa found his way in on goal.
73′ — Saunders watches as Rodriguez hits post — It can be a game of inches at times and the Dynamo were certainly on the wrong end of this one as Raul Rodriguez’s effort struck the post and stayed out.
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Man of the match: David Villa
Goalscorers: David Villa (52′, 90′)
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) The South Korean soccer league deducted nine points from league leader Jeonbuk Hyundai on Friday after one of the club’s employees was convicted of bribing referees in 2013.
The K-League also fined Jeonbuk 100 million won ($90,600). The club, which saw its 14-point lead over second-place FC Seoul reduced to a five-point margin, issued an apology and vowed to take measures to prevent it from happening again.
A court in Busan on Wednesday sentenced a Jeonbuk scout to a suspended prison term of two years for paying referees in exchange for favorable decisions in several league matches in 2013.
An official from Jeonbuk said the scout has been suspended by the team and it will soon make a decision whether to terminate his employment. He refused to be named, citing office rules.
The K-League had vowed reforms after being rocked by a massive match-fixing scandal in 2011, when 52 players were indicted for taking bribes in return for trying to manipulate the outcome of matches or betting their own money on the games.
PARIS (AP) Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu has been removed from the France squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers for an unspecified reason.
[ MORE: What’s Arsenal’s best XI in the Arsene Wenger era? ]
The French football federation gave no explanation for coach Didier Deschamps’s decision to replace Mathieu with Eliaquim Mangala, only saying he made the move “following a discussion” with the Barcelona player. Mangala is currently on a season-long loan at Valencia from Manchester City.
France takes on Bulgaria on Oct. 7 at the Stade de France before traveling to Amsterdam to play the Netherlands three days later in Group A.