Costa will start against Barca, confirms Simeone

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(AFP) – Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has said Diego Costa will definitely start his side’s La Liga title decider away to Barcelona on Saturday after overcoming a hamstring injury.

Costa missed Atletico’s 1-1 draw with Malaga last weekend due the problem as Los Rojiblancos passed up the opportunity to seal their first title in 18 years.

However, the Spanish international, who has scored 36 goals in all competitions this season, returned to full training on Friday and Simeone insists he will be fit for the visit to the Camp Nou.

“He is fine. Today he ended the training session again without any problems. Tomorrow he will play from the start,” Simeone said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

Atletico know that just a point will be enough to seal their 10th La Liga championship and haven’t lost in five meetings against Barcelona in three different competitions this season.

However, Simeone admitted he never believed Atletico would come this close to upsetting Barca and Real Madrid’s domination in Spain by potentially becoming the first side in 10 years outside of the top two to win the league.

“I never imagined a situation where at one point we were seven points ahead of Madrid and six in front of Barca, albeit they had games in hand.

“Even then, though, Barca never gave up and that is a very important value for them.

“We have two rivals who always compete to be where we are. Normally they win all the time but this year it hasn’t been like that.”

In what could be the most important week in Atletico’s history, Simeone’s men will then face Real Madrid in the Champions League final the following Saturday on May 24.

However, the Argentine is confident his players will not be distracted by the possibility of winning European football’s premier club competition for the first time ever.

“We are in a moment where no one is thinking about what is coming next week. Given the respect we have for the league that is our sole focus.

“It seems strange to say it, but it is a league final.”

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