CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — If Spain decides to tinker with the possession-based system that has given it so much success, striker Diego Costa is ready.
Even if the World Cup champions don’t change their style, that suits the Brazilian-born forward just fine too.
Costa said Tuesday he has fully recovered from a nagging hamstring injury that dogged him over the close of the club season and is ready to seize his chance for the defending champions in his native Brazil.
He just needs coach Vicente del Bosque to give him the chance, starting with the Group B opener against the Netherlands on Friday.
“Every day I feel better. I’m very motivated, I think I’m 100 percent and ready,” said Costa, who played 73 minutes of Saturday’s 2-0 friendly victory over El Salvador. “I can’t wait for the competition to start.”
Costa scored 36 goals in all competitions for Spanish champion Atletico Madrid but has yet to make his mark in two appearances for Spain.
Costa’s ability to exploit space plus his on-field grit provides Spain with a physical complement to its slick combination passing game generated from midfield.
Del Bosque said in an interview published Monday that Spain players are not “tiki-taka Talibans,” suggesting that team tactics could be changed if necessary. The former Real Madrid coach has tinkered with his formations at every tournament since taking over the national side in 2008.
Whether he decides to give Costa an opportunity against the Netherlands is uncertain, even with the Dutch stating they will play five defenders. Del Bosque could opt to use Cesc Fabregas in the deep-lying ‘false striker’ position.
“It’s normal to be anxious before the first game against the Dutch. (But) I can’t wait for the competition to start,” said Costa, who felt no pangs of regret over his decision to play for his adopted home over his native one.
“So far things are going very well. My teammates treat me in a special manner, it’s impressive how they have been and I’m really enjoying this experience.
“My family is very happy that I’m here. My parents have no problem because they understand why I took the decision I took,” said Costa.
Costa and teammate Sergio Busquets looked like long-time friends as they joked throughout Tuesday’s news conference. Busquets lauded Costa’s addition as an improvement to a team that has won its last three major international championships.
Spain is hoping to become the first nation to repeat as world champion after doing so as European champion.
“We had a good sense about what Costa would bring and we knew it would be easy to welcome him into the team,” Busquets said. “The atmosphere in camp is spectacular, and he’s just another one of the boys.”
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