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Diego Simeone believes Saturday’s clash with Villarreal gives his Atletico Madrid players the perfect chance to prove they can perform without Diego Costa.
The striker will miss the game against the Yellow Submarine, a match Los Colchoneros are 1.48 to win, with the draw at 4.05 and the visitors at 7.85, after suffering a recurrence of the hamstring injury that has troubled him over the last few weeks and which forced him off during the first half of Tuesday’s Champions League draw against Barcelona.
Costa has been excellent over the last 18 months as, after looking to be only a fringe player during the early days of Simeone’s reign, he made himself a regular in the second half of last season and has continued his form this term, netting a total of 32 goals in all competitions.
Atletico currently sit top of La Liga and are 4.50 to take the title but with both city rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona in hot pursuit, they will need to be on top form if they are to hold on to become champions of Spain for the first time since 1996.
The determined Argentine coach says that with such a small squad, an injury to someone like Costa was always inevitable and believes that this is exactly the type of challenge the rest of his players need to rise to.
“It’s normal. This is football and players are not machines,” he said. “We’re not going to make any excuses because we’re delighted to be doing what we do. We are a team and we have to find solutions as a team.
“Barcelona and Madrid might have more players in reserve but neither of them have two Cristianos (Cristiano Ronaldos) or two Messis (Lionel Messis).”