Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld says Diego Costa is the toughest striker he has faced as he prepares to try and shackle the Chelsea star in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final.
Belgium international Alderweireld spent the 2013-14 season as a team-mate of Costa’s at Atletico Madrid and has since faced him numerous times in the Premier League, as well as on international duty against Spain.
And the Spurs man credits Costa as a key influence on his career, highlighting how a season in LaLiga helped to strengthen him.
“Was he the toughest forward I marked? Yes, he’s a winner,” Alderweireld told the Evening Standard. “He is talented, strong, clinical in front of goal and he has a good technique. He is one of the best in the world.
“I was at Ajax as a young kid and then I went to Atletico, playing with the big boys. It helps so much to train with people like Costa.
“There were big players in that squad. We won LaLiga and we reached the Champions League final. It was a huge help to my performance. There are similarities between that Atletico squad and the group we have now at Tottenham, especially in terms of the spirit.”
Having finished third in the league last year, Spurs currently lie second behind Chelsea as they chase their first title since 1961.
The FA Cup semi-final against their London rivals also represents their best chance of winning the competition since reaching the same stage in 2012.
“This is a young team with the desire to achieve some big things,” Alderweireld added. “Everyone wants to improve, individually and as a team. The work rate is there, which is definitely something you can compare with Atletico.
“I won league titles with Ajax and Atletico and it would be wonderful to get a major trophy for Tottenham, too. We will do it, 100 per cent. With this team and the people working for it, we will get a trophy. If it is not this season, it will be the one after.
“Saturday could change a lot of things, although you need a bit of luck. We will do everything we can to win.”
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