Atletico's Diego Costa not fit for 90 minutes against Juventus, says Diego Simeone
By The Associated Press
Last Updated: 19/02/19 8:20pm
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone says Diego Costa is not fit to play the entire match against Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Costa returned to action last weekend after being sidelined for nearly two months because of a foot injury that required surgery.
He came off the bench in Atletico's 1-0 win at Rayo Vallecano in La Liga on Saturday, playing alongside Alvaro Morata for the first time.
Simeone said on Tuesday that Costa "is not ready to play the 90 minutes" in the last-16 match at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
Vitolo started against Rayo, but Simeone did not give any hints about his formation for the first leg against Juventus.
Midfielder Koke is expected to be back in the line-up after a long injury layoff, although Simeone said he will wait until Wednesday to decide whether or not to start him.
Simeone said he is focused on his squad and not on Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be playing for the first time in Madrid since joining Juventus from Real Madrid last summer.
"We only think about (Antoine) Griezmann, Morata, Costa, Koke," Simeone said Tuesday. "They are all extremely motivated to play a great match tomorrow."
Ronaldo has fared well against Atletico, scoring 22 goals in 31 matches against the rival in all competitions.
In the Champions League, he faced Atletico in four straight seasons with Real Madrid, succeeding every time - in two finals (2014 and 2016), one quarter-final (2015) and one semi-final (2017).
Simeone said there could be surprises in Juventus' squad even though coach Massimiliano Allegri announced on Tuesday that Paulo Dybala will be starting against Atletico.
"It doesn't mean that they will be playing with three forwards," Simeone said. "They can play several different ways regardless of the players who are starting."
Juventus were runners-up in the Champions League in 2015 and 2017. Last year, they were eliminated by Real Madrid in the quarter-finals.
Atletico Madrid is back in the last 16 after failing to make it out of the group stage last season.
This year's Champions League final will be played at Atletico's Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.