Karl Matchett on Chelsea's new star
Last season, 2013-14, saw Atletico Madrid upset the established order in La Liga, becoming the first side other than Barcelona or Real Madrid to win the title since Rafael Benitez’s Valencia achieved the feat, a full decade previous. While the real star of the show was undoubtedly the team ethic and relentless aggressive spirit which Diego Simeone had instilled in the side, scattered throughout there were obvious stand-outs in individuals. Other stand-outs include Guts bonus sports which is definitely worth a look!
Thibaut Courtois impressed yet again on his extended loan, Diego Godin was monstrous in defence, Gabi irrepressible in midfield and Diego Costa added “lethal finisher” to his long list of attributes.
The Brazilian-turned-Spanish striker had long since shown his other attributes which made him an effective weapon on attack, but he maintained a fantastic scoring rate of around a goal per game for much of the season, until a succession of niggling injuries curtailed that incredible run and saw him finish with 27 goals in 35 games.
A title win under his belt as the main man in attack following Radamel Falcao’s departure a year previous, and with a Champions League final and World Cup appearance also on his CV—though he was able to impress in neither as a result of those injuries—it was no surprise to see Costa linked with a big-money transfer for this summer.
Chelsea, it must be accepted, was always a perfect fit.
Jose Mourinho has long favoured the style of forward who can not only score goals, but raise the attacking level of the team by several notches all by themselves: capable of holding up the ball to allow the team to go direct, a physical presence who occupies central defenders throughout the 90 minutes, a player who will drop off the front line to create space for the diagonal runners from the flanks and, above all else, a fierce, fierce competitor.
That’s Diego Costa to a tee. His movement has always been a feature of his game—time spent on the flanks earlier in his career contributes to that—and, as big a reputation as he seems to have for being something of a wind-up merchant, his in-game focus is hell-bent on being better than his defender. Like Luis Suarez, in a way, that ambition knows few boundaries; it can be by being combative, by excelling on the ball, or by finding other means to put them off their game. Costa narks, scowls, pushes and swears his way through a game, but the end-game is nothing more than catching his marker off his guard for a single second or two.
As he showed last season in La Liga, that can be all he needs.
And so to the Premier League. Some thought he might not adapt, but there was never any sense in that train of thought. He is coming into a team almost purpose-built to get the best out of his approach and link-up play, with great talents around him to create chances. Diego Costa’s non-stop aggression and willingness to follow up after he has contributed earlier in an attacking phase means he will find chances falling his way.
Seven goals in just four games this season suggests the partnership was indeed a ready-made one. Don’t bet against him making such a difference that he manages a second successive Champions League final, too.
You can find Karl on twitter at @karlmatchettCategories: Premier League , soccer