Diego Costa is set to miss Atletico Madrid’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg at Barcelona after leaving training early on Monday.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone conceded it will be ‘difficult’ for Costa to play on Tuesday after the Brazilian-born striker completed just 10 minutes of training.
Costa has scored 32 goals in all competitions for Atletico this season, including six in the club’s past five matches, but Simeone does not expect the 25-year-old to take part at the Camp Nou.
“The doctors will assess his fitness but I can’t see him playing,” Simeone was quoted as saying by Marca.
Simeone added on Spanish television channel TVE: “Having seen him at training I think it is going to be difficult for him to make it, but we will wait as there’s still a long while to go yet.”
The Argentine coach said that Costa is as important to Atleti as Lionel Messi is to Barcelona, underlining the significance of an injury to the Spain international.
“Without doubt. Cristiano (Ronaldo), Messi and Costa, all of their own style, but are all equally important,” Simeone said.
“Two in-form players now face off and I think that Diego is growing day by day, and Messi is demonstrating what good those two months off did him, and will go into the World Cup in top form.”
Atleti will enter Tuesday’s quarter-final first leg one point ahead of Barcelona in La Liga and having drawn with the Catalans in all three of their previous meetings this season.
But Simeone expects an even tougher challenge in the Champions League.
“This will be the most difficult (match) of the lot,” the 43-year-old said.
“In the first game we played as the home side and in the third Messi was recovering from injury, and now we have the best Barca.”