Diego Costa may not have the support of the FA, but he has gotten some sympathy from Southampton’s Graziano Pelle.
The Saints’ striker said he respects how Costa plays in a “dirty” way, although he acknowledged Costa crossed the line when he stomped on Emre Can, which warranted a three-match ban from the FA.
[ RELATED: Costa says “I’ve not done anything wrong” ]
Despite condoning Costa’s actions against Emre Can and Liverpool, Pelle said that strikers are unfairly criticized for playing physical, while defenders never seem to catch any of the heat.
He [Costa] plays in a ‘dirty’ way, yes. But this is the way how he plays. I don’t like it if anyone gives an elbow – the defender or the striker. But normal contact with a bit of smartness? It’s normal.
Because the defenders [in England] they do always this. And why you don’t see the defender [criticized]? It’s because they are a defender. And the striker shouldn’t do it?
When I was playing in Feyenoord, [Joris] Mathijsen was our defender. And he played for Malaga before. And he told me, ‘Graziano, Diego Costa is a good player but he is an asesino [an assassin]’. And then when I see the game [against Liverpool], I can see. When you do so much, exaggeration is never good. But otherwise the defender will kick you every game. You have to be aware. Kick before you receive.
Pelle touched on the added physicality of the Premier League compared to the rest of Europe, saying “Every game I go off the field with my ankle bruised. England is like this. If you don’t give, you will receive 100 per cent.”
While Costa has caught a bit of flack for his physical play for Chelsea this season, he has also tormented defenses, scoring 17 goals in 19 league appearances.
It is clear that Costa crossed the line and should have been suspended for his actions against Emre Can, but Pelle does bring up a point. Often you see star players such as Diego Costa or Eden Hazard constantly hacked at when they have the ball, but are criticized when they make a challenge back against a defender.
For Pelle and Costa, the best way to get back at those physical defenders: keep scoring goals.