MADRID. – Diego Costa will walk out for his eighth Madrid derby tomorrow, four years since his last at the Santiago Bernabeu when he scored Atletico’s winner.
Gareth Bale was making his home debut for Real that day back in September 2013, in the same week that Spain requested approval to snatch Costa from the clutches of Brazil and call him up to the national squad.
As he celebrated, Real’s fans chanted “Costa – he is not Spanish”.
All the more striking then that Costa’s shot, guided past Diego Lopez and inside the far right-hand post, still remains his only goal against Real, and the 1-0 win his sole triumph against Atletico’s fiercest rivals.
His record heading into this weekend’s derby reads played seven, won one, scored one. If Costa is looking for positive omens, however, he might draw a parallel between his initiation with Spain in 2013 and the completion of his renaissance with the national team last week. After spending the first five months of this season exiled by Chelsea, Costa is back in favour with Julen Lopetegui and back in form, for club and country.
Today: Alaves v Getafe (3pm), Celta Vigo v Sevilla (6:15pm), Betis v Eibar (8:30pm), Barcelona v Leganes (8:45pm). Tomorrow: Levante v Las Palmas (2pm), Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid (6:15pm), Real Sociedad v Girona (8:30pm), Valencia v Espanyol (8:45pm)
Monday: Villarreal v Athletic Bilbao – AFP.