MADRID (AP) Spain striker Diego Costa did not appear to be slowed by injury in training on Monday as the defending World Cup champions prepared for their final international friendly before heading to Brazil.
All 23 players took part in the training session ahead of Saturday’s match against El Salvador in Washington. Costa was put through a special stretching session with Cesc Fabregas afterward, the Spanish federation said.
Costa has been hobbled for weeks by a right thigh muscle problem, but coach Vicente del Bosque is gambling that the Atletico Madrid forward will be fit to lead Spain’s attack at the World Cup ahead of Fabregas, Fernando Torres and David Villa.
”I didn’t think they would let me train from the start but we did some tests and I’m well,” Costa told reporters. ”I think I can be fit for the match against the Netherlands, even for the friendly in Washington.”
Spain plays its Group B opener against the Netherlands on June 13 in Salvador before moving on to face Chile and Australia.
Del Bosque is counting on Costa to spearhead Spain’s attack after opting for familiarity in Torres and Villa over Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Llorente.
Costa scored 36 goals in all competitions to help Atletico win its first Spanish league title in 18 years and reach the Champions League final for the first time since 1974.
”I’ve had a very good year with my club and the idea is to keep it going here, to repay those who have faith in me,” Costa said. ”I’m very motivated and the pressure won’t affect me, I’ve already played in a lot of high-pressure games so I know what to expect.”
Costa was among seven players from Atletico and Real Madrid to join the rest of the 23-player squad before the team travels to the United States late Monday.