Who Is Better: Mario Balotelli or Diego Costa?

Richard Morgan@Richiereds1976Contributor IFebruary 17, 2014

Who Is Better: Mario Balotelli or Diego Costa?

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    AC Milan's mercurial and headline-grabbing forward Mario Balotelli and Atletico Madrid's prolific and lethal striker Diego Costa are currently two of world football's most coveted attacking players, but who is better of the deadly duo?

    Well, as both men prepare to go head-to-head in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 clash at the San Siro on Wednesday night, we try and answer that question for you here.


    All stats are provided by Squawka.

Tale of the Tape: Diego Costa

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    Daniel Tejedor/Associated Press

    Date of birth: Oct. 7, 1988

    Age: 25

    Height: 1.88 meters (6'2")

    Club: Atletico Madrid

    Shirt No: 19

    Foot: Right

    Place of birth: Lagarto, Brazil

    National team: Brazil and Spain

    Market value (according to Transfermarkt): £26.5 million

    Agent: Gestifute

Tale of the Tape: Mario Balotelli

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    Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

    Date of birth: Aug. 12, 1990

    Age: 23

    Height: 1.89 meters (6'2")

    Club: AC Milan

    Shirt No: 45

    Foot: Right

    Place of birth: Palermo, Italy

    National team: Italy

    Market value (according to Transfermarkt): £26.5 million

    Agent: Mino Raiola

It's a Numbers Game: Diego Costa

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    Gabriel Pecot/Associated Press
    CompetitionMatchesGoalsAssistsSubbed onSubbed offMins
     Champions League341-2194 
     Primera División24214152044 
     Copa del Rey51--1447 

    The Brazilian-born frontman has been in red-hot form in front of goal ever since he netted a brace in Atleti's opening Liga contest of the season at Sevilla back in August, with Costa having been banging the goals in on a regular basis ever since.

    Whether it be in the league, the UEFA Champions League or the Copa del Rey, the 25-year-old has managed to hit the target 26 times in total.

It's a Numbers Game: Mario Balotelli

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images
    CompetitionMatchesGoalsAssistsSubbed onSubbed offMins
     Champions League6222-432 
     Serie A18103131498 
     Coppa Italia11---90 

    It has been just your usual action-packed campaign so far for Balo, full of wonder goals, controversial incidents, tears and incredibly for the first time ever in the 23-year-old's career—a missed penalty.

    However, with 14 goals in total to date in all competitions for the struggling Rossoneri, Balotelli has been one of his club's few players who has actually performed to the standards expected of him at the San Siro.

In a League of His Own

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    Costa, on the other hand, belongs very much to the latter category, as clearly demonstrated by his impressive attacking numbers for Diego Simeone's high-flying outfit so far in this campaign—none more so than in La Liga.

    In fact, no other player in any of Europe's top five leagues this season has contributed a higher percentage of his team's overall goals than Costa's 36 percent (21 strikes out of an Atletico total of 59 scored in La Liga).

One-Man Balo Show

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    With Milan currently languishing down in an unfamiliar ninth position in Serie A, the one and only real bright spot for fans of the Italian giants so far this season has been the eye-catching form up front of Balotelli.

    In particular, the Italy international has scored two of the best goals seen in the league all campaign against Livorno back in December and then against Bologna on Friday night.

    However, in many ways, that entirely sums up the player's top-level career to date, with the youngster tending to be remembered more as a scorer of great goals than a great goalscorer.

Compare and Contrast

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    Interestingly, however, ahead of their two teams' eagerly anticipated first meeting in Europe's premier club competition at the San Siro on Wednesday night, stats-based website Squawka has the two strikers running at just about neck and neck (see above) in their comparative overall performances in the league so far this season.

    And while it is the Atleti forward who emerges on top when it comes to both the defensive and the attacking aspects of their respective games, it is the Rossoneri attacker's greater ability when in possession of the ball that just sees him end up with the slightly superior overall score of the two players.


And the Oscar Goes To...

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    Of the two strikers on display here, there is no doubting that at present, Costa's form in front of goal is superior to that shown by Balotelli so far in this campaign.

    The Atleti marksman has managed to register a highly impressive 26 goals and five assists in total in just 34 matches in all competitions for his team this season.

    While in comparison, Balo has recorded just 14 strikes and five assists overall in his 27 games in all competitions for Clarence Seedorf's underperforming outfit.

    However, those respective set of attacking numbers will count for nothing in the heat and intensity of a knockout round tie in the UEFA Champions League, and when it comes to providing a potent mix of both the spectacular and the unexpected, then there is no better frontman than Super Mario to call upon.