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Spain v Costa Rica: Forwards out to impress ahead of qualifying return

With Diego Costa’s fitness ruling him out of Spain’s friendly against Costa Rica, a clutch of strikers have the chance to stake their claim for a place in Vicente del Bosque’s side.

Costa has been left out of Del Bosque’s squad for the friendly in Leon and the subsequent Euro 2016 qualifier against Belarus due to fitness concerns.

The Chelsea forward has been hampered by hamstring troubles during his debut Premier League campaign with Nolito, Alvaro Morata and Paco Alcacer likely to have opportunities up front in his absence.

Alcacer and Morata have both made solid attempts to replace the goals scored by former international David Villa, although Nolito will rarely get better opportunities to showcase his Celta Vigo form at international level.

Sevilla goalkeeper Sergio Rico and recent Barca signing Aleix Vidal are also likely to feature this week after being handed call-ups.

Vidal’s new club-mate Jordi Alba – who signed fresh terms at Camp Nou this month – comes into the friendly fresh off the back of a UEFA Champions League success, with the left-back eager to maintain momentum with his country.

“When you come from winning titles you want more,” he said. “[Playing for Spain] is always a pleasure, we’re all very happy and want to give our all, to come back with our homework done.

“We’ve got to play well in Leon, have a good match and prepare for Belarus, because being at the European Cup is very important.”

While Spain return to European qualifying against Belarus, Paulo Wanchope’s Costa Rica begin their CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign versus Jamaica in a month’s time.

Following their opener against Jamaica, Wanchope’s men face El Salvador and Canada in Group B, with the squad having been split up in their preparations for the friendly due to differing levels of match fitness.

The likes of Keylor Navas, Joel Campbell, Cristian Gamboa and Bryan Ruiz are among those due to link up with their team-mates on Tuesday, having stayed at their training base longer following Saturday’s defeat to Colombia.

Radamel Falcao’s winner settled the contest, with coach Erick Sanchez saying of those arriving late in Madrid: “We have worked with these players looking on situations that could occur in the match and their movement in small spaces.

“Ideally we would have all players on the same physical level, but that is not feasible because they come from different situations.”

The two sides last met in 2012, with the match ending in a 2-2 draw after Costa Rica surrendered a two-goal advantage.

Tue 9 Jun, 2015
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