Ahead of this first international break of the 2015-16 season, Diego Costa had spoken of his desire to repay the faith that the Spanish national setup has shown in him, and to cement his place in the side, which has come under threat recently thanks to not only his injuries but the fact that he had only scored 1 goal for the team since switching allegiance from Brazil over 12 months ago.
"I think what's missing is that I need to score goals. Every game, I'm getting better physically. I know I can give a lot more to the team and hopefully that will start right now. Strikers need to score goals; that's what I've been lacking here. When I score, my confidence will be higher and everything will come together. We have very skilful players and I don't have any excuses; I have to do things better."
"I'm getting to know my team-mates better and, although the style is different for me, there are great players here. I need confidence. Adapting to this style is easy.
"I feel that I owe the team, I haven't done anything yet. I have to repay the faith that has been placed in me. Maybe I have been a bit nervous but that's why it's important to play well now."
-Diego Costa; source: Goal
He was hoping everything "would get better" with some goals. Alas, he did not manage any against Slovakia on Saturday. Still, Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque is urging patience with the Chelsea man who tends to stick out like a sore thumb among all the tippy-tappy stuff offered up by his national teammates.
"Of course I would like him to score but he did some good work. Against a team playing so defensively the player who has the most difficult job is the one in his position. He moved well, he kept the defenders busy. We have to be patient. A lot of the time when he gets the ball he has his back to goal."
-Vicente Del Bosque; source: Guardian
Costa played all but the final 15 minutes of Spain's 2-0 victory. While playing the short possession game doesn't always agree with his first touch or his demeanor, he did manage to make a nuisance of himself and ended up winning a (soft-ish) penalty as well. That's an assist in my book!
Unfortunately, Costa has been rather stingy with goals of late, scoring just 4 times for club and country in 20 games, since the double against Swansea in January and the subsequent controversy, suspension, and injury issues. Both Spain and Chelsea could use a well-oiled goal machine once again, so hopefully Costa finds his feet against Macedonia on Tuesday and kick-starts not only his national team career but his Chelsea season as well.