Diego Costa and playmaker Koke both played their part in Atletico Madrid’s vital 1-0 victory over AC Milan at the San Siro.
The La Liga highflyers entered their Champions League tie with AC Milan rather cautiously following their convincing defeat to Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey Semi-Finals.
Much was made of their recent defeat to Real Madrid, with the Spanish press believing that it could spark a downturn in results and the confidence and self-belief will have been drained.
The Rojiblanco’s superb 1-0 victory in Milan was the best response to such claims.
Playing a more defence-minded role, Manchester United target Koke tucked-in on the left hand side, helping out left-back Emiliano Insua who was deputising for the injured Filipe Luis.
The 22-year-old remained as busy as ever, notching up 80 touches, making 57 passes with an 81% success rate. Yet, what would probably grab David Moyes’ attentions is Koke’s impressive eight crosses, as he looked to provide Diego Costa with some attacking service.
Koke predominantly plays down the middle, behind the striker and feeding the frontmen with perfectly weighted through balls – similar in mould to Manchester City’s David Silva. Yet, if Koke can develop a crossing ability, David Moyes may find another use for him at Old Trafford.
Coveted striker Diego Costa got the all-important away goal for the visitors, climbing highest to power home a header following a Gabi corner and putting Atletico Madrid firmly in the driving seat heading back to Madrid.
He said of the victory: “It was a very difficult match against a great rival but we knew how to soak up the pressure and at the key moment we went after the win.”
“We have a solid advantage and now it's about going back to the Calderon and maintaining it.”
The Brazilian born striker – who has netted an impressive 21 La Liga goals in just 23 starts - has no weaknesses, and his style suits that of a Jose Mourinho team.
Chelsea have been linked with the Atletico striker for a while, and recent reports have suggested that he could end up in London with the Blues this summer, with Thibaut Courtois possibly going the other way in a deal-breaker.
With a reported release clause of just £32m, it’s difficult to see Diego Costa remaining in Madrid beyond this season.
Will Koke or Diego Costa move to the Premier League this summer?
image: © azuaje