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May 22, 2014

Juanfran hopeful over Costa fitness

Atletico Madrid star Diego Costa is a major doubt for the UEFA Champions League final against Real on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid right-back Juanfran is surprised Diego Costa has visited Belgrade to receive "horse placenta" treatment on his injured hamstring, but hopes his teammate can return to fitness in time for Saturday's Champions League final against Real Madrid.

Costa suffered a grade 1 hamstring tear during Saturday's La Liga decider against Barcelona at the Camp Nou -- an injury which would normally require at least two weeks' treatment.

In a bid to accelerate the process, the 25-year-old was in Belgrade on Tuesday evening with Atletico physio Oscar Pitillas to visit Serbian "medical miracle-worker" Marijana Kovacevic, who treats muscle injuries with an ointment made of horse placenta.

AS reported on Thursday morning that the Brazil-born Spain international is confident of featuring in the showpiece final in Lisbon, and had been impressed by Kovacevic's methods.

However, La Roja coach Vicente Del Bosque has expressed concerns about risking a further setback which could affect the forward's chances of playing at the World Cup.

The rest of Atletico's squad -- including playmaker Arda Turan, who is struggling with groin and hip issues -- have made the shorter trip to relax and prepare at Los Angeles de San Rafael.

The mountain resort near Madrid is a favourite of Los Colchoneros coach Diego Simeone, who also brought his players there ahead of last season's Copa del Rey final win.

Juanfran told El Larguero on Wednesday night that few players at Atletico had previously been aware of the unorthodox placenta treatment but he hoped it worked for Costa.

"I was surprised like everyone," he said. "I had no idea about how all that process went. This morning we were asking about it, and [physio] Gorka [de Abajo] explained it to us. We have been told that he is back in Madrid tonight [Wednesday] and tomorrow [Thursday] he will meet up with us. Hopefully he is feeling good, and the recovery he is doing will be the best possible. We all love Diego a lot."

The former Real Madrid youth teamer said he hopes Costa will be back for Saturday's game, but if not Atletico have other attackers who have proven already this season they can step up.

"I do not know yet, it depends on how this recovery goes," Juanfran said. "If it works then great, because he is an incredible player who we always need. If not then in other games he has not played, those who play up front have shown they have the quality to play, to start for Atletico Madrid, and score goals. We are not too concerned, that's the truth."

Costa's travels have taken the spotlight away from the issues hampering Arda, who has also been in and out of the Atletico side due to fitness problems over recent months.

Marca claims the Turkey international personally requested that his former Galatasaray medic Burak Kunduracioglu -- now at Fenerbahce -- visit him in Madrid this week to treat a pelvic problem picked up in an accidental clash with Barcelona's Cesc Fabregas on Saturday.

Should Arda not start in Lisbon, then Raul Garcia is expected to fill in on the right side of midfield.

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