Brazil-born Diego Costa says he does not like being the target of abusive chanting from opposition club fans, but imagines his detractors will change their tune once he scores his first goal as a Spain international.
Atletico Madrid attacker Costa declared for Spain last autumn after an unseemly "tug of war" over his allegiances between the country where he was born and the land where he has made his career -- but has yet to make his La Roja debut after injury forced him to pull out of the squad for November’s friendlies against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa.
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque and many players have publicly backed the move, but not everyone is yet in favour -- and Costa was again subjected to chants claiming he was not Spanish and should not play for Spain at recent games at Valencia and Malaga.
The 25-year-old told AS that he was resigned to putting up with the abuse until he started playing and scoring for his adopted country.
“The only way to change it is playing and scoring a goal with Spain,” Costa said. “I do not like it, but it does not bother me. If I have the good fortune to play with Spain, and things go well for me, those who are shouting at me today will be clapping me then.”
Costa was speaking ahead of Saturday’s La Liga top-of-the-table clash with Barcelona, which Xavi Hernandez has said could help decide who wins this season’s title. Costa preferred to take a more cautious approach, saying whatever happened there would still be a full half of the season to play.
“There is a long way to go,” he said. “This is still the first half of the season, and it is very important to win for it represents, but there is nothing decided. The important thing is to go from game to game and do our best. It is a very difficult game against one of the best opponents in the world. But we are playing at home and we can make it difficult for them. We think the same as the boss [Diego Simeone]. They are above us, we will fight and do things well, but we know that it is difficult. We will continue along our path.”
Blaugrana talisman Lionel Messi being back fit again would not make it any easier, Costa admitted, but he said Atletico had defenders who could handle the Argentine.
“Messi is Messi,” he said. “We all missed him. It will be nice to be up against him. He will be up for it after being out for some time. He will make it difficult, but we have people at the back who can stop him.”
Costa played on the wing in August’s Supercopa clashes between the sides, but has since scored 19 goals in 18 La Liga games playing mostly as a centre-forward. He said he would nonetheless be happy to play wherever Simeone decided would be best for the tame.
“The boss always looks for the best for the team, and if he puts me there I will give my all,” Costa said. “The important things is for us all to be together to be able to win. We must play as a team.”