Del Bosque pleased with Costa debut
Vicente del Bosque says that Diego Costa is quickly picking up Spain's way of playing after the Brazil-born attacker made a quietly impressive debut for his adopted country in Wednesday's 1-0 friendly win over Italy in Madrid.
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Costa, 25, played the full 90 minutes as a central striker in the game at the Estadio Vicente Calderon, linking the play well and always offering an outlet to his colleagues, although he never seriously troubled Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Del Bosque told his news conference after the game that considering this was his first international appearance for Spain, the Atletico Madrid player did well.
“Diego will keep fitting in bit-by-bit with the team,” the La Roja coach said. “No player is harmful for our style. I am happy because he has integrated well into the group. During the game he put in a lot of effort. To do that midway through the season, with so many games, must be taken into account. When he settles in he will bring a lot more for us.”
The debutant himself told reporters that he appreciated the faith Del Bosque had shown in calling him up, and now hopes to pay the veteran coach back.
“I am leaving very happy for having debuted with Spain but above all for having won the game, which is the most important,” Costa said. “The boss communicates his confidence to me. Now I want to pay that back by playing well. I am really motivated.”
“It is different, but the most important thing is to bring something,” Costa said. “I believe that with time I will pick up more confidence and it will be easier. I am ready. I am happy, but I know I can bring much more for La Seleccion. I like it here, Sergio Ramos is almost like my brother.”
But Costa was quick to play down the idea he is now a certainty to travel with Spain to this summer's World Cup in his home country.
“I will keep working to play well, and to come again with Spain,” he said. “I hope [to go to the World Cup]. I will keep working in every game. The rest depends on the coach.”
Spain dominated proceedings throughout against a limp Italy side, but had to be content with just the one goal -- rammed home by Pedro Rodriguez early in the second half after good work from Andres Iniesta and substitute David Silva.
“Spain played a good match,” Del Bosque said. “For a friendly game we played very well. There were some spells of really good football. We were lively in possession, the ball flowed, it was moved around well. We were also attentive to Italy's attacks.”
The night's other big talking point was the performance of Thiago Alcantara in a deep midfield role, where the Bayern Munich man was outstanding, mixing measured passing with attacking thrust.
“It is very easy to play in this team,” Thiago said after winning only his fifth cap. “It was a difficult game but we achieved a good win. I have not set a goal for myself to go to the World Cup, I prefer to work on the short-term. My objective is to keep improving at Bayern.”
Meanwhile, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli believes Wednesday’s defeat highlighted the "embarrassing" physical condition of his side.
Like in the Euro 2012 final, the Azzurri spent much of the evening chasing Spain's shadows at the Vicente Calderon.
"We can't say how far behind them we are right now because our condition at the moment is embarrassing," Prandelli told a news conference.
The Italy boss has repeatedly emphasised how important it is going to be to have a high level of fitness during the World Cup.
Having experienced the heat and conditions during the Confederations Cup last year, Prandelli has made that his number one priority, which is why Wednesday night's performance will have concerned him.
"We could see that the difference in physical condition between ourselves and Spain is, I wouldn't say embarrassing, but almost," Prandelli said. "We've got a lot of work to do because we need more intensity.
"They are far stronger than we are, but a game like this was helpful because, faced with difficulty, we didn't give up and we were able to make it an even game in the second half."
Prandelli still tried to see the glass half-full with under 100 days to go until the World Cup gets underway.
"I wouldn't say I'm disappointed, even if I didn't expect our physical condition to be like this," he said. "I can also be happy about this game because, like I said, the lads gritted their teeth in the second half and resisted."
Debutant Gabriel Paletta was singled out for particular praise, with Prandelli saying the Parma defender's performance was "excellent," adding: "He was the positive note tonight."
There was also praise for Torino forward Alessio Cerci, which also came with a warning.
"He still has to work more," Prandelli said.
The Azzurri boss will next get to work with his players at a brief get-together in April, depending on Europa League commitments, while Italy's next fixture is against Luxembourg on June 4, immediately before they fly out to Brazil.