In the big games, it’s often a team’s talisman that pulls them through. So with the biggest night in their history just around the corner, Atletico Madrid would have feared the worst when star striker Diego Costa limped off last time out holding his groin.
Ahead of their quarter-final clash with Barcelona at the Camp Nou, a game which Diego Simeone’s side are 11/2 to win, the La Liga leaders could well be without their 32-goal hit man after he missed the training session preceding the game.
While there’s always Lionel Messi to fill the prolific scorer role from Barca’s point of view, the Costa news will leave Ladbrokes punters scratching their heads over substitute Atleti goal scoring selections. Until now:
The former Barcelona man has already scored against his old mates this season, when opening the scoring in the first leg of the pair’s Spanish Super Cup clash.
Having played second fiddle to Costa for much of the season, Villa has made just two Champions League starts this term.
However, he’s still found the net 13 times in league endeavours and with second-string forward Raul Garcia also missing through suspension, the 32-year-old will be trusted to lead the line in his former home.
There’s a reason the 22-year-old midfielder is perennially linked to Manchester United, and that reason is a superb current season for Los Colchoneros.
Able to play anywhere across the midfield or forward line, Koke is yet to register a goal in the Champions League this season but has six in La Liga and notched in Atleti’s last outing.
With Atletico’s two leading Champions League scorers (Costa and Garcia) unavailable, it falls to the next most proficient European hit man in the Madrid ranks to take the lead.
The Turk has found the net three times in this tournament to date, notching against Zenit and Porto in the group phase and AC Milan in the second leg of the last round.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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