Simeone: Positives of 'animal' Costa outweigh negatives
The striker's red card early against Barcelona effectively ended Atletico Madrid's LaLiga hopes, but Diego Simeone defended Diego Costa.
Diego Costa's positives outweigh the negatives although the striker's red card against Barcelona cost Atletico Madrid, says Diego Simeone.
Costa's outburst at referee Jesus Gil Manzano saw the Spain international sent off at Camp Nou, with Barca winning 2-0 thanks to late goals from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.
Atleti's slim hopes of chasing down LaLiga's leaders therefore became even more remote, with Costa given an eight-match ban over the incident.
Costa also reportedly faces a punishment from the club for his behaviour, their appeal against the ban having been rejected, but Simeone defended the tempestuous forward.
"He's an animal, Diego Costa is an animal!" Simeone said to Goal.
"He made us suffer in a game against Barcelona when we needed his characteristics, sure, he is a player that we needed for that game, but I am not one of the coaches that generates negative sensations from an episode.
"I value everything and with Costa there is more positive than negative."
Costa's long suspension will likely give Alvaro Morata more chances to impress as a partner for Antoine Griezmann, the striker having hit five league goals since joining from Chelsea in January.
The 26-year-old's loan is set to run for a further season but Simeone indicated Atletico may pursue a permanent deal for Morata, a boyhood fan of the club.
Simeone talks up Morata
"Morata is a football player. You throw him a shirt and he plays. He has played in great teams, he has enthusiasm and vision," Simeone added.
"He found a strong dressing room as a group and immediately entered into a very competitive role with [Angel] Correa, Costa, Antoine...
"Morata showed his potential right away, I hope he continues with us, he has things to improve, but I feel that when he has continuity, he raises his level and is one of the best strikers in Europe."
Atletico and Simeone face a rebuilding job at the end of the season, with experienced defenders Diego Godin and Filipe Luis among those expected to leave.
Lucas Hernandez has already been confirmed as heading for Bayern Munich, with Saul Niguez and Griezmann among the other big names linked with moves.
Rodri and Thomas Partey are primed to take more responsibility, though, and Simeone feels the midfield duo are ready to make a breakthrough.
"Rodri has hooked from the start, he's great, he has to improve," Simeone said of the Spain international. "I argue, I fight him and I provoke him to play a lot more, so that he grows a lot more.
Rodri needs to improve
"The more passes he gives to Griezmann, to [Thomas] Lemar, to advance, if he adds more good passes, the team is always going to play well. If he looks for a side pass, if he adds a lot of those passes, the team will be flat, it will not advance in the game.
"If Juanfran gets Rodri's pass 20 times it is not better than if he hits six or seven in forward transition, where lines are broken. I see [Sergio] Busquets, the best of all, and in two simple passes, he does not make 30 forward, but he does hit you 12 or 14 passes to break lines. Less sideways and more vertical passes.
"When it is said, you have to secure the ball, it is true, to make the team breathe. But if I have time to be vertical and I lose the possibility of taking advantage of an unmarked player, it is useless.
"Thomas is more vertical than Rodri, it's not that he's better, he's more vertical. Maybe he loses more balls because it is not so easy to play vertically. When Rodri improves that, he's going to be even better.
"He has an aerial game, he recovers the ball, he is a focused player, he is a huge boy... and he will improve, for sure."
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