The Costa factor at Atletico Madrid
While he was unhappy to be withdrawn in the second half of Atletico Madrid’s heroic victory at Anfield in the Champions League, Diego Costa makes a measurable difference to Los Colchoneros.
The Costa factor is not what it was when he left the club back in 2014, when he had scored 36 goals in a single season, yet it’s impossible to deny that his presence is still a blessing for Diego Simeone’s team.
A slipped disc injury ensured Costa was on the sidelines for three months after surgery in November and the team missed him in his absence.
His goal return of two in 15 appearances is not that of a player who can usually be considered vital, yet Costa brings something to Atleti, something that isn’t necessarily tangible.
Los Colchoneros score their most goals as a team unit when the former Chelsea star is leading the line.
The team average of 1.23 goals per game rises to 1.36 goals per game when Costa is playing from the start of matches.
Costa’s character also helps to galvanise a group that is lacking a talisman since Antoine Griezmann left for Barcelona.
Joao Felix has proven not ready to take on the mantle left by the Frenchman and thus the onus has fallen on Costa to be a leader on the pitch.