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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Diego Costa injury doubt for Atletico Madrid's clash with Barcelona

Spaniard hobbles off during 3-2 league win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, which sees capital side close to within point of leaders Barcelona

Diego Costa only returned to the competitive fold this month following a two-week absence due to 'muscle problems'. AFP
Diego Costa only returned to the competitive fold this month following a two-week absence due to 'muscle problems'. AFP

Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa has been sidelined with a foot injury that could leave him in a race for full fitness ahead of a crucial league clash with Barcelona.

Costa hobbled off during a 3-2 league win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, which saw the capital side close to within a point of leaders Barcelona.

Atletico defender Diego Godin hit a brace in that win but has been sidelined after he, too, hobbled off before the end with a thigh injury that could rule him out for up to a month.

Now Costa has joined the Uruguayan on the sidelines after suffering "an injury to his foot," according to a statement by Atletico on Tuesday.

"The striker will go through adapted training sessions and undergo physiotherapy and medical treatment," it added, without giving a timeline for his return to competition.

Costa only returned to the competitive fold earlier this month following a two-week absence due to "muscle problems" but played only the first half against Bilbao after complaining of "pains", according to Atletico coach Diego Simeone.

Simeone is also without the injured Thomas Lemar (thigh) and defenders Lucas Hernandez, Jose Maria Gimenez and Stefan Savic.

Atletico host Barcelona on November 24 following the break for international matches, then host Monaco four days later looking to book their ticket for the last 16 of the Champions League.

Jordi Alba has been called up by Luis Enrique for the first time since he started his reign in July, for fixtures against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. EPA
Jordi Alba has been called up by Luis Enrique for the first time since he started his reign in July, for fixtures against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. EPA

Alba denies rift with Enrique

Barcelona's experienced defender Jordi Alba on Tuesday denied any fall-out between himself and Spain coach Luis Enrique after he left Alba out of two consecutive national squads.

Alba has been called up by Enrique for the first time since he started his reign in July, for fixtures against Croatia on Thursday in the Nations League and a friendly at home to Bosnia and Herzegovina three days later.

He had been frozen out for games in September and October.

"Nothing happened between Luis Enrique and I, we never argued," the Euro 2012 winner said.

"Like every coach, he makes his own decisions, we can agree or disagree with them, but I've never had a problem with him or his coaching staff."

Alba, who worked with Enrique at the Camp Nou between 2014-2017, has scored two goals in an impressive start to the season to help the Catalans to the top of the La Liga table, despite Sunday's 4-3 home humiliation to Real Betis.

A win for Spain against World Cup finalists Croatia on Thursday would guarantee them a place in the Nations League finals.

But Alba, a European champion with club and country, rejected comparisons with the 6-0 hammering of Croatia two months ago.

"This match will have nothing do with it, it will be in Crotia and certainly will be very difficult," he said.