Sunday September 29 2013
Diego Costa does it again

Atletico Madrid have enjoyed a record-breaking start to the season, thanks in large part to Diego Costa. Olly Dawes looks at their Brazilian goalscorer

Victories for the red and white side of Spain's capital city appear to come along like the proverbial bus. Having defeated Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final in May, Atletico clinched their first league win over Carlo Ancelotti's side since 1999 on Saturday night.

Diego Simeone has now turned the Rojiblancos into a legitimate force in Spanish football – even after the sale of star goalscorer Falcao. El Cholo's side sit second in the table, level on points with leaders Barcelona and now five points clear of their fierce local rivals.

Simeone's match-winner was a much-maligned forward, the typical villain of the piece and a thorn in Real Madrid's side. Falcao's departure has catapulted Diego Costa into the spotlight – this time for the right reasons – and his recent performances have him tied with Lionel Messi in the race for the Pichichi.

His displays have also prompted questions over his international future. Costa has two Brazil caps, but both have come in friendlies, and with the 24-year-old now a Spanish citizen, speculation has linked him with a call-up to Vincent del Bosque's squad.

With Fernando Torres struggling for form and Fernando Llorente watching from the sidelines with Juventus, there is a valid opportunity for Costa to establish himself as Spain's leading striker ahead of the World Cup – if he decides to represent La Roja.

However, the allure of playing for Brazil as they host the tournament in front of a fervent home crowd may be too much to turn down for Costa. With only Fred, Jo, Alexandre Pato and Leandro Damiao in contention under Luiz Felipe Scolari, Costa is currently the most in-form player and would surely offer the Seleccao more than the aforementioned forwards.

The Atleti forward has, however, been left out of Scolari's squad to face South Korea and Zambia in friendlies, which could be a telling sign of his future chances with his home country – leading him straight into del Bosque's hands.

If Costa keeps up this form, he will certainly be a valuable asset to either nation. Atletico's primary concern will be keeping hold of their hitman, after he admitted he almost joined Liverpool in the summer.

"I had the chance to leave. I was about to do so. Liverpool are a great team. But, after so much fighting and overcoming many difficulties to earn my place at Atletico, how was I going to leave? I thought that it was very important for me to continue growing in this club and to play here for many years."

The former Valladolid striker is now making his name as the latest Atletico goalscoring hero, following in the footsteps of Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero and Falcao. Love him or loathe him, you can't keep Diego Costa out of the headlines.

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