I don't think there's a Chelsea fan alive that doesn't expect an announcement that Diego Costa will be joining Chelsea in the very near future, and with that in mind, he was the focal point for most Chelsea fans as Spain took on the Netherlands today. Unfortunately, we'll likely continue to see some very divided opinions on the player after the defending champs were crushed by the Netherlands.
Costa had been dealing with a hamstring strain, and there were questions about how effective he'd be in his first match since being the earliest player substituted in Champions League final history. While there were some signs of rust early on, Costa was constantly making runs in behind the Netherlands defense, and was looking more likely than not to eventually find the back of the net.
Twenty seven minutes into the game, the first controversial moment involving the Brazilian-born forward happened. Costa went down in the box and a penalty was awarded, but upon further review, it looks to be a bit on the soft side. Form your own opinions:
Xabi Alonso converted the ensuing spot kick, putting Spain up 1-0. The Spanish would concede to the goal of the tournament (thus far) just before the half though, and Costa barely saw the ball again as Spain began to crumble during the second half.
Costa's day was never expected to last 90 minutes, as his match fitness was always going to limit him to about an hour during the opening match. He may have shortened his tournament with an incident just before coming off though, as he appeared to headbutt an opponent that wasn't spotted by the referee:
If the referee had spotted the incident, Costa would have likely been looking at at least a yellow card. As it went unpunished during the match, there's a very good chance that Costa won't be playing again until the knockout stage, assuming Spain reaches that point.
It wasn't a great game for Costa by any means, but it was certainly better than the performance by the man that eventually replaced him. I can't say I'll be too upset if FIFA officials decide to sit the player down for the next few matches though, assuring his hamstring is fully healed when Chelsea get their season underway.