Diego Costa Struggles with the Ball in His Spanish Debut

Paul WilkesFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2014

Associated Press

Diego Costa isn't the first player to be born in Brazil and represent Spain, but there has certainly been a huge furor around the proposal of him lining up in red in the World Cup. The impressive form of the striker prompted both national powerhouses to do their best to secure his services.

"I never imagined [all the fuss]," Costa explained to Canal +, per Football Espana. "When I realised there was interest from Spain I started to imagine things, and thought 'why not?'"

The main focus of all this is that both Brazil and Spain could do with a top consistent striker. With numerous talents throughout the rest of their individual squads, it's a surprise that neither can boast a forward of a world-class standard.

Had this taken place 12 months ago, it's hard to imagine the same reaction, although, Diego Simeone knew that he was the natural heir to the quality Radamel Falcao, while Brendan Rodgers could see the potential, via The Daily Star's Nick Lustig.

Having appeared twice for Brazil in friendlies, there is still time for Costa to change his mind and play for the country of his birth in the World Cup, despite starting against Italy at the Vicente Calderon.

Another Spanish player with Brazilian links is Thiago, whose father, Mazinho, was an international. "We've welcomed Diego Costa as one of us, like any other Spanish player," the former Barcelona midfielder said at a press conference.

"He had to make a difficult decision and you have to respect him for that. We’re fully behind him and we are lucky to have a player with his qualities," continued the Bayern Munich player.

His new teammates have had to endure his tenacity, work rate and ability to infuriate at club level. Although they clash regularly on the pitch, there won't be a Spanish defender who isn't glad that Diego Costa opted for La Seleccion.

It took him just three minutes to trip an opposing defender as he attempted to latch onto a through ball.

Then, later in the match, he made a sliding tackle next to the opposition's box, and as he pressed once more, he drew a foul after taking the ball off the toe of an Italian defender, all in the span of a minute.

There were a number of times when his first touch was poor or he didn't manage to find a teammate when attempting the one-two. Whether it was in the air or on the floor, he wasn't able to link the midfield sufficiently, and he continually gave the ball away.

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

Some players didn't help him with balls fizzed at great pace into the big man, but he will need to do better in possession.

The adaptation is, of course, massive between the contrasting styles: When countering and pressing, he was more than comfortable, and when looking to play short intricate passes, he was out of sorts.

Likewise, when the through ball is available, his fellow professionals will see this option increase rather than take the extra touch and opt for a more patient buildup.

He almost got in behind the defence in a more appropriate way—when a direct ball from Sergio Ramos saw Costa wrongly ruled out for offside. It could be sign of things to come against teams that choose to play a high line against Spain.

There's an argument that a number of Spain's forwards don't particularly suit the tiki-taka style. The likes of Fernando Llorente and Fernando Torres aren't a natural fit within the philosophy but offer a variation.

Costa offers the all-round package: quick, strong, direct, powerful and a quality finisher. "Everything I have is through hard work and fighting, and if I have it, it's because I deserve it," declares Costa, via the Football Espana report. He won't give up lightly in the effort to adjust to La Roja.