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Atlético Madrid: Three ways Simeone can use Diego Costa

Diego Costa will finally rejoin Atlético Madrid in January after a tumultuous few months.

The Brazilian-born Spanish international is a hero at Atlético Madrid, having helped them to their first La Liga title for 18 years in the 2013/14 season, breaking up the seemingly impenetrable duopoly of city rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Diego Costa also helped the club to the Champions League final that season and is the epitome of what Diego Simeone has accomplished at the club. 

The striker netted 64 times in 135 games, prompting Chelsea to get involved and get him to the Premier League for £32 million.

Despite the sour ending to his time at the club, Costa was a resounding success in West London, helping the club to two Premier League titles in his three seasons for the Blues, scoring 59 goals in 120 appearances.

Desire, aggression, tactical discipline and passion saw Costa and Atlético forge a perfect relationship, and it’s why a return to the club suited all parties.

However, Atlético have a wealth of options in attack and midfield that are instructed to play a specific and disciplined style of football, not seen at any other top club in Europe, though Costa has already proven himself to fit the Atlético and Simeone mould.

RealSport look at some of the tactical set-ups the 28-year-old may be utilised in.

  1. 1 4-4-2

    The archetypal Simeone system at Atlético. This formation has brought a wealth of success for the Argentine manager at the club and is ideally suited to fit Costa's needs and requirements.

    Atlético like to play with two banks of four and not allow any space in between the lines for the opposition to get in between. 

    They have a solid defensive structure and require two talented, hard-working strikers up top, able to play in their direct system and can finish consistently and ruthlessly.

    Frenchman Griezmann has proven himself to be one of the finest strikers in Europe and he would only improve with having Costa as a foil to play off.

    Both strikers are exceptional at dropping deep to help link play and get in behind.

    With the creative talents of Koke and Carrasco out wide, and the vertical passing of Saul to supply them, this is the most likely system in which Costa will be utilised and flourish in.

  2. 2 4-4-3

    In games where Atlético are looking, or even needing to stretch the game a tad more, whilst having more control in midfield, Simeone may look to utilise Costa as a lone striker, with Griezmann and Carrasco flanking him.

    The midfield trio of Madrid would keep their solidity and provide creativity, whilst Griezmann out wide would see the Frenchman have more space, away from the attention in central areas.

    Due to Costa's ability to drop deeper, Griezmann could also make infield runs behind the defence, taking up the space vacated by Costa.

    Atlético could also revert to their preferred 4-4-2 set up when out of possession with ease, with either Carrasco or Griezmann dropping deeper and the other moving alongside Costa.

  3. 3 4-3-1-2

    Atlético are insistent on remaining compact without the ball and will not be penetrated through the centre. 

    The 4-1-2-1-2, therefore, would allow Simeone to solidify the centre of the pitch, whilst maintaining the two striker system, and deploying a more traditionally based number ten. 

    Saul at the base of midfield would provide an excellent link for vertical passing between the lines whilst Gabi and Koke are intelligent tactically, to ensure Madrid are not unbalanced.

    Griezmann is more of a second striker than a number ten, though still has wonderful creativity. 

    The runs he makes from the pockets in front of the defence could also push Costa and Carrasco further wide, ensuring Atlético have a front three covering the width of the pitch.


    It would also give opposition defences an issue with who to pick up and where to follow them.

  1. POLL: How should Atlético Madrid use Costa?

    1. 4-4-2
    2. 4-3-3
    3. 4-3-1-2
    56 votes
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Harry Brooks

Harry graduated from UAL in Elephant and Castle with a 2:1 BA Hons degree in sports journalism.

He has an NCTJ diploma and also coaches football and teaches PE in schools.

Harry loves to talk football tactics!

Atlético Madrid: Three ways Simeone can use Diego Costa

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