Diego Simeone has pledged his full support to Diego Costa, despite the Atletico Madrid striker’s La Liga drought ahead of Saturday’s derby against Real Madrid.
Costa scored twice against Real as Atletico lifted the European Super Cup in August and, going further back, he hit the winner at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2013, before leaving to join Chelsea.
He has struggled for goals this season, however, managing only one in the Champions League against Monaco while in La Liga he has not found the net since February, a run that includes 15 matches.
READ ALSO: Osun election: Democracy in Nigeria is dead – Fayose
“I see him being in fantastic form and for me, in the first half the other day (against Huesca), he was above everyone else, he played very well,” Simeone said on Friday.
“He was involved in our first goal with an assist and was always always moving and causing problems. Physically, he is strong and against Madrid, I expect him to have a great game.”
Atletico will jump above their city rivals with a win this weekend, after reducing a seven-point gap to two over the last fortnight.
As well as recording back-to-back wins over Getafe and Huesca, Real have slipped up against Athletic Bilbao before being blown away on Wednesday by Sevilla.
“I look beyond the last game when I look at Madrid,” Simeone said. “They didn’t have a good match in the first half but that can happen against Sevilla because they are a great team.
“I look at them and think about the talent and potential they have. We know we’re going to face one of the best teams in the world.”
Real had made an excellent start to the season, with many predicting Julen Lopetegui’s team could prove more unified and better balanced without Cristiano Ronaldo.
But five points dropped in three games, and a worrying susceptibility to counter-attacks against Sevilla, has allowed doubts to creep in.
“In football everything can change very fast,” Lopetegui said.
“Immediately we have a magnificent challenge, a derby against Atletico, and just as we did not get carried away by the victories, we don’t get bogged down by a defeat.”
Marcelo pulled up with an injury against Sevilla, which Real confirmed on Friday as a calf strain.
The full-back is expected to be out for around two weeks, with his availability for Real’s Champions League trip to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday also in doubt.
Latest Nigeria News
- AC Milan lose to Olympiakos, will miss out on Europa League knockouts
- Paris Saint-Germain-Dijon among five postponed matches in Ligue 1
- Power Rankings: Barcelona top, Liverpool climb; Juventus, Man City drop
- Youngster Eddie Nketiah impresses, Laurent Koscielny and Mesut Ozil return vs. Qarabag
- Hislop: Dembele's problems stem from childhood
- Europa League exit will pose trouble for Milan
- Shaka's Power Rankings: Barcelona claim top spot
- Extra Time: No love for PSG, refs against Milan, are horses athletes?
- Arsenal teenager Bukayo Saka showed 'big personality' in full debut for Gunners
- Game-worn Diego Maradona shirts get ¬18,500 at auction
- Barcelona's Jordi Alba: No dressing room issues with Ousmane Dembele
- Man United supporters frustrated at present but can look to past for Anfield inspiration
- Exploding Heads: Sol Campbell is a genius
- Ex-Argentina boss Jorge Sampaoli to join Brazilian club Santos
- Game-worn Diego Maradona shirts fetch ¬18,500 at auction
- Fantasy Premier League: Kane earns the armband
- Fantasy La Liga: Lionel Messi leads the line
- Nicol: Liverpool have enough to cover recent injuries
- Premier League Predictor: Showdown at Anfield
- FIFA president Gianni Infantino: Most federations favour 48-team World Cup in 2022
- Transfer Rater: Pochettino to Real Madrid? Pogba back to Juve?
- Sensational Giroud free kick earns Chelsea draw vs. Vidi in Europa League
- Liverpool to beat struggling Man United? Juventus to overcome Torino?
- Tottenham express 'great concern' at fan claims of mistreatment by Barcelona security
- Barcelona defender Gerard Pique linked with interest in buying FC Andorra
- Champions League XI: Mo Salah and Leroy Sane lead team of the week
- Thomas Muller's flying kick vs. Ajax was eerily accurate recreation of Bundesliga logo
- England FA CEO Martin Glenn to quit role at end of 2018-19 season
- Mourinho: Two players would make Man United team after Valencia loss
- Man United's lack of team spirit, Mourinho's negativity explains wide gap to rivals Liverpool
- Babbel: Wanderers can be giant killers
- Loftus-Cheek: Sterling right to speak out at racism
- Shaka Hislop explains why Zack Steffen chose Man City
- The pressure is on for France, Women's World Cup host
- Youthful Real Madrid beaten soundly by CSKA in group stage finale
- Columbus Crew SC interviews ex-Red Bulls GM Ali Curtis - sources
- Manchester United fall to Valencia, miss chance to win Champions League group
- Young Boys stun Juventus with brace from Guillaume Hoarau
- Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele apologised to team after being late to training - Carles Alena
- Man City win group as Sane double sinks Hoffenheim