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Monday, December 2, 2013

The Sports Thread #1 For 12/2/13: Diego Costa Still Is Not Guaranteed A Free Trip Back Home For The Cup

Image from Iberosphere.com 

It will be fascinating to see who Vicente Del Bosque brings to the World Cup Finals in the forward position for España.

With Diego Costa still scoring (now 15 goals in 15 games) for co-Liga leaders Atletico, the Brazilian-Spaniard continues to make his case that maybe he made the right decision to not wait on Luis Scolari and his native country giving him that long awaited "A" team call up during the last international break.

But Costa's great form still does not mean he can erase the biggest disadvantage he has currently, which is no caps for Spain yet. He would have to wait until the next international break in March to get that first appearance. That is a problem considering that his four main competitors at the forward spot for Spain have plenty of experience with Del Bosque, with three of the four currently in solid form.

The lone man Costa doesn't have to fret about at the moment is Roberto Soldado, who may need a spying agency to locate a goal for him. He has just had a dreadful time at Tottenham so far, not being able to get chances and truly be the dominant force he was at both Getafe and then Valencia.

The man who Soldado was better than at the start of this season was Alvaro Negredo, who is one of the three forwards that could make it a painful summer of non-play for Costa. The former Sevilla man is playing the best football of his life at Manchester City, adding a superb free kick goal in City's rout of Swansea on Sunday to further his great start to his Premier League career.

Negredo's great form has been the Spanish Forward News surprise story of the season, especially with Soldado struggling. Soldado was the more complete and skilled forward for most in their La Liga latter years, but that has dramatically changed at the moment. Of course, it helps Negredo that he plays with Sergio Aguero as a partner while Soldado has to hope the likes of Andros Townsend, Christian Eriksen, Aaron Lennon and others in the midfield give him the service he has not received thus far while being lonely up front. (It's maybe why Jermaine Defoe is smart thinking about that Toronto FC big money he could receive in leaving White Hart Lane).

Costa has to also think about the reemergence of long term Del Bosque favorites in the two Fernandos: Torres and Llorente.

Despite not scoring in Chelsea's comeback win over youthful Southampton, Torres had another fine game this season and continues to show how a forward can be so effective and valuable even without a goal. His pace is back to what it was in his Liverpool elite days with his dribbling confidence also back to his optimum level. Despite good moments from both Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba lately, Torres is unquestionably Jose Mourinho's #1 forward at the moment.

Meanwhile for Llorente, he has shaken off the awful way he departed Athletic Bilbao and is now Antonio Conte's main target man with Carlos Tevez a fine partner for him if Juventus decides to start two forwards. Another clutch goal in the dying seconds over Udinese from him gave the Old Lady the outright lead for the first time this season in Serie A.

With Torres, Llorente, and Negredo being mainstays for Del Bosque and still physically well, you have to assume them being in Brazil next summer if they continue their fine play. And Costa still will have to think, in the still "false 9" era, that Del Bosque could still be loyal to even Barcelona's Pedro and City's Jesus Navas and put them among his final forwards' list (and that's not even factoring in Napoli's Jose Callejon or Swansea's Michu, although they don't have the clout with Del Bosque at all).

Also a concern for Costa is the fact that, outside of Villa and maybe the great rising force that is Koke, no one else in Diego Simeone's regular starting lineup is a constant for Spain at the moment. That familiarity with teammates, especially at the highest international level, is important, especially considering how different Del Bosque's team plays from the one Simeone features.

Finally, Costa's Atletico forward colleague, a man by the name of David Villa, is also lurking to make his case to go to his third World Cup as well.

It will be fascinating to see how this will all play out over the next six months. But if Costa keeps on this Falcao-esque goal scoring rate, surely he must be selected in the final 23, even if he has as much time playing for Spain as yours' truly. 
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