Atletico Madrid coach, Diego Simeone, has confirmed that his star striker, Diego Costa, will struggle to make the starting line-up for the Champions League tie with Barcelona tonight.
The Brazil-born Spain international finished Saturday’s game with a knock and only lasted 10 minutes in yesterday’s training session before he left with a physio.
"Having seen him at training I think it is going to be difficult for him to make it, but we will wait as there's still a long while to go yet,” Simeone said.
Costa has scored 25 goals for Atletico in La Liga and seven in just five Champions League games this season, and Simeone confirms that if he would miss the game, it would be like Barcelona would miss Lionel Messi.
“Without doubt. Cristiano, Messi and Costa, all of their own style, but are all equally important,” he continued.
“Two in form players now face off, and I think that Diego is growing day by day, and Messi is demonstrating what good those two months off did him, and will go into the World Cup in top form.”
With Simeone and Barcelona coach, Gerardo Martino, two Argentinians will face each other in the tie, and the Atletico boss was full of praise for his countryman.
“Martino has won the Supercup, he can win the cup, the league and the Champions League,” he added.
“Barça are very good and are prepared for these kind of games. We will play against a great Barcelona.
“This will be the most difficult of the lot (our games vs Barcelona this season).
“In the first game we played as the home side and in the third Messi was recovering from injury, and now we have the best Barça. They are going to want to finish the game here.
Despite a comparable small budget, Atletico are leading La Liga ahead of Barcelona and Real Madrid, and belong to the dark horses in the Champions League.
Their 43-year-old coach has heaped praises on the unity in his team and says their success is based on hard work.
“We had the Supercopa, got to the semis of the Copa del Rey, then the league, the Champions League.
“We have a great group, with who I've been able to make a team, and they're growing day upon day. It's through hard work, nothing else. Simple.
“If we say we're the favourites, we're arrogant, if we say we're worse, we seem like victims," Simeone concluded.
What do you make of Atletico’s chances, if Diego Costa would miss the first-leg against Barcelona? Have your say in the comment section below.