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Diego Costa vs. Antonio Conte: Much ado about ... something?

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The English media is alive with the sound of Costa vs. Conte this morning, and they're all singing the same tune.

MAIL: Diego Costa warned about disrespect after Chelsea striker's clash with Antonio Conte over team instructions

TELEGRAPH: Chelsea order Diego Costa to hold his tongue in public after hectoring Antonio Conte

And so on.

Safe to say, there is ... something ... to all this.  But that something, as it turns out, is very little, if anything concerning.  Certainly at this time.  It might of course one day grow into something concerning, but it also might not.  It probably will not, though speculating is a bit useless.  I would assume that mature, professional heads would prevail, that none of the involved parties are actually five years old (even if they might behave as such at times on the pitch), but you know what happens when you assume...


Conte was keen to deal with the incident without fuss and Costa, although notorious for his short-fuse, is not thought to be someone who holds a grudge and was seen fooling around with bystanders in the tunnel before leaving Stamford Bridge on Saturday.


Costa was seen laughing and joking when the Chelsea players had changed and left the dressing room, suggesting the incident was quickly dealt with and that the Spain international did not hold a grudge.

And so on.

You might not be surprised to learn that we have the Spanish media to thank for all this brouhaha. The assumption immediately after the match had been that Costa wanted to come off to ensure that he doesn't get suspended for the next match by potentially receiving his fifth yellow card of the season, but thanks to some intrepid Spanish lipreaders, that theory has been subverted.

According to Marca, part of what Diego is screaming back at the bench is "Si no te voy bien... ¡cámbiame!" (other parts may or may not contain a few expletives).  That, more or less, translates to "If you don't like it, take me off" — which is how the conclusions about Costa getting a bit miffed about Conte's constant coercing have come about.

And I could certainly see a scenario where Conte's micro-management from the sidelines could get on someone's nerves, especially when the match is well in control.  But these sorts of things can and do happen in the heightened emotional atmosphere of a high-stakes match (and not just in football), especially when two passionate individuals like Costa and Conte are involved.  The vast majority of time, flashpoints like this get resolved behind the scenes and without too much fuss or elaborate ceremony. Conte had already played it down immediately after the match, and it sounds like Costa didn't really care either by the end of the day.  They'll make for a juicy tabloid story or two, but won't have any lasting negative impact beyond that.  And that's probably exactly what's going to happen here as well.

Carry on.

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