The football world got back to ... well ... football on Wednesday, with a busy program of international friendlies and World Cup qualifiers falling on deaf ears and blind eyes after the frenzy of the last couple days of the summer transfer window. But, as it turns out, some did watch, and watch they did as Diego Costa once again went without a goal for Spain.
Back in the national team after missing Euro 2016 due to injury, Costa picked up where he left off, not finding the back of the net after his high profile switch of allegiance from Brazil to Spain in 2014. Other than the first part of last season, Diego hasn't had any trouble scoring goals in club football for several years now, but for some reason, it's just not coming together for him for the national team.
Normally, this wouldn't be such a big deal. And even if it were a big deal -- and 1 goal in 11 games is a startling statistic -- it could be easily ignored. But Costa has been in feisty mood lately. He recently bemoaned his treatment by the English media, saying he's unfairly targeted (he wasn't wrong, it should be noted); now he's turned his attentions to the Spanish media.
"If I were a Real Madrid or Barca player, you would say I played well."
"I did bad games. But even if I don't score, the truth must be said. I missed the goals but they will arrive. Media don't lie many times when they say I have not done great things with the national team. But you have to say it as well when I play well."
"I think this one has been my best game with the national team. Not like other times when I leave hurt. It's my bad because sometimes I f--- it, but other times some people make a storm out of a little thing."
-Diego Costa; source: ESPN
Speaking of making a storm out of nothing...
Shockingly broken ESPN translation aside, I guess Costa's a bit aggrieved that even when he plays well, all he's getting is grief from the Spanish media. In fact, here's a better (?) and slightly different translation from the Daily Mail.
"Yourselves, the journalists, you should assess my performance in this friendly but I felt I did well."
"If I was at Real Madrid or Barca, you would be saying that I had a great game but as I am not a natural Spaniard, people always criticise me in a special way."
"I won't change, even if I'm criticised. It's true that I'm wrong sometimes but I don't need anyone to tell me. I can do self-criticism. My team-mates trust me."
-Diego Costa; source: Mail
I did not see the match yesterday -- Costa got an assist with a nice layoff -- but one less excuse for Diego to leave England is fine by me. Pour it on, Spanish media!
This match actually featured four Chelsea players, and debuts for both head coaches. Spain's Lopetegui got the better of Belgium's Martinez, with Manchester City's David Silva scoring the only two goals of the contest. Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard (captain again) played the full 90 as Martinez made only four changes. Michy Batshuayi was not one of the four. On the other side, both Costa and Azpilicueta started on the bench, but the former came on when Morata picked up an injury after just a half hour, while the latter replaced Jordi Alba on the hour mark.
Elsewhere, there were wins for Eduardo and Portugal against mighty Gibraltar (5-0), Kante and France over a Conte-less Italy (3-1), and Willian and Brazil over Ecuador (3-0). Eduardo and Kante played from start to finish, but Willian only got an hour. There's a bit more detail about these, as well as a few loanees and youngsters in action over at the official website ... if you care beyond this ridiculous goal scored by Chelsea U18 budding star Mason Mount.