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One of the secrets of Antonio Conte’s Chelsea that took the lead in Premier League with a series of incredible, conclusive wins, is the polish that Diego Costa rediscovered. The naturalized Spanish centre forward is currently the top goal scorer in the league, but he is also the player who had a hand in the most goals (18 in all). Performance that has placed him back at the top of the football world with his unique mixture of physical strength, technique and scoring skills.
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Diego Costa’s contribution is uniform. He contributes in the scoring phase in the penalty box, dividing the individual and team efforts almost equally. This is how he made it to Christmas with 13 goals scored in 17 matches, but also with 5 assists and 23 key passes. He has already scored more goals than he had in the entire 2015-2016 Premier League, but also more than he had scored in 8 of his 11 career seasons.
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Diego Costa acts as a true centre forward, primarily in the central areas. But this season he has regained notoriety also for his unique ability to bring the team forward and to take the ball into the opposing team’s last thirty metres.
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The best of Diego Costa is in the goal against City. In Chelsea’s moment of difficulty, he orchestrates the pass to Fabregas, starting just a bit in front of the midfield line. He receives the ball with a perfect chest stop in the centre of the penalty area, gets around Otamendi and class is dismissed. An explosive mix that allows Conte to keep from limiting himself strictly to the game plan and to rely on individual solutions as well. Something new in Italian technique football.
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If Diego Costa is unique in his field, it is because of goals like this one. After 75’ of battling the WBA defence, he finds the strength to press the opposing centre, forcing an error with a move that borders on fouling. And out of this comes the decisive goal of the match. This is why he can prove to be a determining factor in the balance of a 38-match season, with his ability to never give up and to unhinge even the most disciplined defences, those of the small teams.
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The assist to Moses in the Tottenham match explains how much Diego Costa is feared as well. The entire Spurs defence ends up watching him and keeping an eye on him, forgetting to mark Moses. And he understands that he can take advantage of the situation with an assist that allows the Nigerian to take a shot at the wide-open goal.
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Mattia Fontana
Mattia Fontana, Eurosport Italia editor.
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