By DAN KARELL
Diego Costa will have his first chance to represent his adopted country Spain on Wednesday in a friendly match against Italy.
The Atletico Madrid forward was included in Spain head coach Vicente Del Bosque’s squad for the friendly, though there was no place for Manchester United’s Juan Mata nor Chelsea’s Fernando Torres.
In a squad dominated by midfielders (only seven players are listed as forwards or defenders), Bayern Munich playmaker Thiago has earned a recall, as well as Costa’s Atletico teammate Koke. Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla, and Manchester City trio David Silva, Jesus Navas, and Alvaro Negredo also made the squad.
Costa, a Brazilian native, controversially decided to pledge his international future to Spain late last year after not feeling the love from Brazil’s boss, Luiz Felipe Scolari. The 25-year-old was called up for a pair of November friendlies but had to withdraw due to injury.
This season, Costa has taken the place of Radamel Falcao in Atletico’s lineup without missing a beat, scoring 21 goals in 25 La Liga matches.
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ANELKA BANNED FIVE MATCHES, FINED FOR GESTURE
The FA came down hard on Nicolas Anelka for his “quenelle” gesture.
The West Bromwich Albion forward was given a five-match suspension and an 80,000 pound ($134,000) fine from the club for using the gesture after scoring a goal in a game against West Ham United in December. Anelka was found guilty by a three-man FA panel for making a gesture that was “abusive and/or indecent and/or insulting and/or improper, and that included a reference to ethnic origin and/or race and/or religion or belief.”
Anelka has seven days to appeal the decision if he so chooses.
The FA panel found that even though Anelka was guilty of the offense, they didn’t believe that he was inherently anti-Semitic or that he intended to incite anything by using the gesture.
Manchester United have been boosted by the return of defender Phil Jones to first team training. (REPORT)
Germany head coach Joachim Löw has given a surprise first call-up to 22-year-old forward Pierre-Michel Lasogga for Germany’s friendly match against Chile. (REPORT)
Barcelona have reportedly completed the signing of 17-year-old Croatian midfielder Alen Halilovic for more than 10 million euros ($13.8 million). (REPORT)
Portugal manager Paulo Bento has selected an inexperienced squad for Portugal’s friendly match against Cameroon, though Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul Meireles, and Joao Moutinho are in the squad. (REPORT)
Former World Cup winning head coach Marcello Lippi has spurned any retirement thoughts by signing a three-year contract extension with Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande. (REPORT)
Chivas de Guadalajara owner Jorge Vergara is hopeful that Cruz Azul won’t pick up their purchase option on Marco Fabian. (REPORT)
What do you think of these developments? Do you see Costa starting for Spain against Italy? Do you agree with the FA’s and West Brom’s decision on Anelka? Can Phil Jones help save Man United’s season?
Share your thoughts below.