Chelsea and Spain relations hit new low
Just when it seemed as though the prickly relationship between José Mourinho and Vicente del Bosque was improving, a new club versus country row is threatening to bring matters to a head.
The Chelsea manager had been furious with veteran Spain boss Del Bosque’s decision to use former Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa in last month’s EURO 2016 qualifier against Slovakia and Luxembourg.
The 26-year-old, who has struggled with hamstring injuries for much of the last nine months, was unable to play in the Blues’ Premier League clash against Crystal Palace on his return from international duty.
Mourinho spoke afterwards of Diego Costa returning from international duty in a condition which would not allow him to play against the Eagles, but sarcastically hinted that he would be fully-fit for Spain’s games in mid-November.
Costa limped out of both the climax of Atletico’s La Liga and Champions League seasons in May, but a compromise appeared to have reached between Mourinho and Del Bosque earlier this month.
Spain have not included Costa in their squad for the games against Belarus and Germany, even though the striker featured for Chelsea against Liverpool at the weekend.
Mourinho suggested he was not behind Costa’s exclusion, but it does seem a happy coincidence, although the former Real Madrid and FC Porto boss believes that the player’s omission will be good for him, Chelsea and Spain in the long run.
Diego Costa has scored 10 goals in nine Premier League appearances for Chelsea so far this season.
He grabbed a hat-trick against Swansea City and a brace in the 6-3 win at Everton, as well as netting for the unbeaten Premier League leaders against Burnley, Leicester City, Aston Villa, Arsenal and Liverpool.
However, just when a truce appeared to have broken out, Mourinho appears to have pushed his luck too far as Cesc Fabregas apparently has a perfectly-timed hamstring problem that has forced him to pull out of the Spain squad.
The 27-year-old former Arsenal and Barcelona star was duly sent for a check-up in Madrid, after complaining of the problem but got the all-clear from medics.
On Fabregas’ insistence, he will sit out the next two Spain games, but the news has infuriated Del Bosque, who has spoken of being flexible in the past but not in this case.
Fabregas has been a regular in the Chelsea midfield in the first three months of the season, playing in all 11 of the Blues’ Premier League matches.
Del Bosque has called up Villarreal‘s Bruno Soriano to fill the Chelsea midfielder’s place for Saturday’s Group C fixture with Belarus in Huelva and the prestigious friendly against world champions Germany in Vigo, next Tuesday.
Spain are second in Group C behind Slovakia and need maximum points against Belarus to keep their qualification bid on track, although international football betting suggests the Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 winners will be in France defending their title.
Sources: dailystar.co.uk / theguardian.com / yahoo.com / dailymail.co.uk