Is Chelsea target Diego Costa the right man up front for Spain?

Diego Costa attempting an overhead volley

The Atletico Madrid striker won a penalty for Spain but struggled to make an impact as La Furia Roja were thumped 5-1 by the Netherlands.

After Spain's demoralising 5-1 defeat to the Netherlands in the Group B opener, questions will be raised over whether many of the world champions' key players deserve a place in the side.

The back four were shaky, the midfield ineffective and Iker Casillas had one of his worst nights in goal for the national side.

However, for Spain to bounce back and qualify for the knockout stages, the first step may be to drop Chelsea target Diego Costa.

Costa started solidly against the Netherlands, running into the channels and causing genuine problems for the Dutch centre-halves. His hard work was rewarded with a first-half penalty after he was brought down by Stefan de Vrij.

However, after that point the Brazilian-born forward was largely ineffective for the World Cup holders. When Spain fell behind, they looked to go direct, pumping the ball behind the Dutch backline for the striker to run on to.

While this tactic worked wonders for Costa and Atletico Madrid this season, it simply does not fit into Spain's gameplan. Midfield maestros Xavi and Andres Iniesta looked uncomfortable getting the ball forward so quickly and they rarely threatened until the game was out of reach.

Where Spain struggled, the Netherlands thrived. The Oranje put together a masterclass of direct, attacking football, with each rapid counter-attack punctuated with smart finishing by Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie.

Spain have options aside from Costa in attack. Ex-Atletico man David Villa thrived as the central striker at the 2010 World Cup, and he has vast experience of playing with Iniesta and Xavi for club and country.

Coach Vicente del Bosque could also decide to return to the tactic that saw them triumph at Euro 2012, with Chelsea new boy Cesc Fabregas operating as a 'false nine' in attack. This would play to the world champions' strength - their ability to create chances through long periods of possession and considered attacks.

Whether it is Costa's former teammate Villa or a potential future one in Fabregas, Spain will need to make a change in attack if they are to make it four consecutive major tournament wins.

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