Costa set to miss trip to SA

Diego Costa (AFP)
Diego Costa (AFP)

Madrid - Prolific Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa has strained a muscle in his right thigh, ruling him out of his Spain debut, Atletico Madrid said Monday.

An MRI scan at a Madrid clinic revealed the 25-year-old had picked up a torn right thigh muscle during Atletico's 1-1 away draw against Villareal on Sunday, the club said in an online statement.

The injury delays Costa's long-awaited and controversial first appearance for Vicente del Bosque's team.

"This injury will prevent him from accepting Vicente del Bosque's call-up for the Spanish national team for the games against Guinea and South Africa, for which he had been named," Atletico said.

"The striker will be on a sporting rest undergoing physiotherapy," the club said.

Costa, who has also acquired Spanish nationality, was called up last week for the friendly matches against Equatorial Guinea on Saturday and South Africa on Tuesday next week.

The Atletico Madrid man declared his intention to play for Spain, for whom he qualifies on residency grounds, and rejected a call-up from Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari last month.

"It was quite a difficult decision to choose between the country where you were born and the country that has given you everything, which is Spain," he said at the time.

"I looked at it, weighed it up and the correct thing is to play for Spain because here I have done everything, all that I have in my life and that I have been given has been in this country.

"I feel a special love for this country, here I feel very valued for what I do every day and I feel the love of the people."

Costa had represented Brazil twice as recently as March in friendly games against Italy and Russia.

However, as he hadn't played a competitive international he was still able to switch his allegiance to Spain.

Scolari slammed Costa's decision, saying the player had turned "his back on the dream of millions."

Costa came up through the youth ranks at Barcelona Esportivo Capela in Sao Paulo but his first professional contract was with Sporting Braga in Portugal, whom he joined in February 2006.

After joining Los Rojiblancos in 2007, he was farmed out on loan to Celta Vigo, Albacete, Valladolid and finally Rayo Vallecano. He returned to Atletico from Rayo last July.

Del Bosque will also be without Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas, who picked up a sprained knee ligament during the Catalan side's 4-1 win over Real Betis in La Liga on Sunday.

Barcelona said Fabregas will need roughly one week to recover. He will be replaced by Barcelona's Marc Bartra.

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