Diego Costa called up to Spain squad
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has called Atletico Madrid's Brazil-born forward Diego Costa into his squad for friendlies against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa.
Costa, 25, has hit the top of the goalscoring charts in Spain with 13 goals in 12 appearances and decided to play for the world and European champions over his native Brazil after a tug of war for his services over the past few months.
The powerful striker announced last week that he had decided to play for his adopted nation Spain and, despite having played two friendlies for Brazil earlier this year, could now make his debut against either Equatorial Guinea in Malabo on Nov. 16 or three days later against South Africa in Johannesburg.
"We have done things naturally, and followed the regulations," Del Bosque told reporters as he announced the squad. "He meets all the requirements. It is his decision. He wanted to play with Spain."
Del Bosque said he had not guaranteed Costa a place in the squad for next summer's finals in his home country, and did not expect any current Spanish strikers -- in or out of the latest squad -- to have a problem with the call-up.
"There is no unlimited credit for anyone," he said. "There is a long time between now and the tournament. We play again in March against Italy, and we will see what happens then. He is in the same situation as everyone else. All the players we have called up over the years have settled in without problems."
The new man could bring an added dimension to Spain's attacking play, the veteran coach suggested.
"We have intelligent players capable of adapting to the characteristics of different players," Del Bosque said. "He is in a good moment, playing very well. He is a player who battles, who plays with energy, along with his quality. How could that be bad for us? He will bring us new things."
Elsewhere in the squad, Barcelona pair Xavi Hernandez and Gerard Pique have been rested, while Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso returns for the first time this season, although Carles Puyol is still out despite having returned to action with his club. Bayern Munich utility man Javi Martinez is included in the 23-man selection, getting his first call since last summer's Confederations Cup.
David Silva and Isco are among those who drop out of the squad which secured qualification for next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil when beating Belarus and Georgia last month. Santi Cazorla is back in, Fernando Torres and Michu are injured, and Roberto Soldado and Fernando Llorente remain on the outskirts for the moment.
Asked about his decision to leave out Xavi and Puyol, Del Bosque suggested both remained key figures in his thoughts ahead of the upcoming tournament.
"Xavi is totally identified with La Seleccion," he said. "We have spoken with him and decided that this time he does not come. Puyol is very good, he is already participating for his club. We are counting on him looking to the World Cup."
Spain's schedule for the upcoming friendlies was only finalised earlier this week, after earlier potential plans to play games either against Russia in Dubai or in Gabon fell through.
Del Bosque said he was delighted that the first of the two games allowed La Roja to return to Johannesburg's Soccer City, where they won the 2010 World Cup.
"Johannesburg brings us good memories," he said. "We are really looking forward to returning. We hope it is a good game."
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Pepe Reina (Napoli), Victor Valdes (Barcelona).
Defenders: Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Juanfran (Atletico Madrid), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), Alberto Moreno (Sevilla), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Inigo Martinez (Real Sociedad).
Midfielders: Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Koke, (Atletico Madrid), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Jesus Navas (Manchester City), Juan Mata (Chelsea).
Forwards: Alvaro Negredo (Manchester City), Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), David Villa, Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid).