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France v Spain: Preview

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Diego Costa is looking to begin the task of making amends for Spain's World Cup nightmare when they take on France in a friendly in Paris on Thursday night.

The Chelsea striker was in the squad which crashed out in the group stage in Brazil, the defence of the trophy they had won four years earlier ending in the most ignominious fashion.

Costa looked clearly unfit during the tournament after struggling with a hamstring injury at the end of the La Liga season, but, having started the Premier League season with a bang with his new club, is now eager to impress on the international stage.

``I know I did not play to my expected level at the World Cup, and not just me, but the team. But what's happened has happened and now we have to move on,'' Costa said in AS.

The 25-year-old has yet to score following his four international appearances so far, having transferred his allegiance from Brazil, the country of his birth, but is likely to be a key part of Spain's future as coach Vicente del Bosque rebuilds the team.

The likes of Xavi, Xabi Alonso and David Villa have retired from international football following the World Cup and the squad to face France includes five new faces - Real Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal, Atletico Madrid midfielder Raul Garcia, Valencia striker Paco Alcacer, Espanyol goalkeeper Kiko Casilla and Athletic Bilbao defender Mikel San Jose.

Costa is in pole position to make the striking spot in a new-look team his own, but insists the likes of Fernando Torres and Alvaro Negredo could still force their way back into the picture.

``We know that Torres, Negredo are great strikers,'' he said. ``You can go back and there are new people who are coming in that can bring a lot. I will try to make the most of it with the hope that I get it right.''

France's experiences in Brazil were rather more positive than Spain's, even if there was still a sense of disappointment as they bowed out in the quarter-finals following a limp display in a 1-0 defeat to Germany.

Manchester City right-back Bacary Sagna, though, is wary of a backlash from the visitors.

``Spain remain one of the best teams in the world,'' he said on www.fff.fr. ``They took a blow and will want to show they are back.''

ends

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