Diego Costa has eaten the Premier League alive since coming over from Chelsea, but still can’t figure out the international scene.
The Brazilian-born striker has yet to get off the goose egg for the Spanish national team in six matches, while the media and fan sharks grow hungrier and hungrier.
And yet, his manager stays steadfast, at least openly.
“Costa is very enthusiastic, putting in the effort,” Del Bosque said after Spain’s first Euro qualifying loss in 28 matches, a 2-1 loss to Slovakia on Thursday. “As well as his performance we are happy with his behavior and his commitment.”
It remains to be seen if Costa, whose fitness has been repeatedly questioned, can play again today against Luxembourg.
But it’s Vicente del Bosque’s job to get the best out of Costa. Jose Mourinho has done so at Chelsea, creating an environment where the 26-year-old was able to come to England and thrive.
But with the Spanish team, things haven’t been the same.
“We have great confidence in Costa. We can’t say it’s been a success but we trust him,” Del Bosque said as the national team prepares for Luxembourg. “If he had any physical discomfort he wouldn’t be with us. That’s for sure. If he’s here it’s because he’s in good condition and is available to play. I expect his performance to be more closely like that of Chelsea when he’s with the national team.”
Unfortunately, they haven’t been like that. While the midfield hasn’t helped, Costa hasn’t shown the same ease of movement, flow, and deadly accuracy he has at Stamford Bridge.
“We did not expect this,” Del Bosque said. “It is our first defeat in 28 qualifying games. It is more good by them than bad by us. They [Slovenia] made it difficult for us. We had patience to move the ball around, but we were not accurate in front of goal and their keeper played well. Nobody likes to lose, but nobody can say we lacked effort or attitude today. We lost due to circumstances of football. The counter-attack for the second goal was very good. We have to say they played some good football.”
Del Bosque nearly quit following Spain’s embarrassing showing at the World Cup, but he stayed on for another shot at leaving on his own terms. But will his loyalty to Costa be his undoing?