La Liga Preview: Osasuna v Atletico Madrid
By Football News
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone faces a selection dilemma over whether to include Diego Costa for Sunday's La Liga clash with Osasuna.
Costa has been instrumental in Atletico's excellent campaign so far, scoring 27 goals in all competitions and helping Simeone's men keep pace with Barcelona and Real Madrid in an enthralling title race.
Atletico are level with Barca and Real on 60 points ahead of the trip to Osasuna, who are winless in their last eight games against the capital club.
Costa heads into the match in good form, having found the net in Saturday's 3-0 success over Real Valladolid and the 1-0 UEFA Champions League win at Milan on Wednesday in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
With 21 top-flight goals to his name in 2013-14, the 25-year-old is just one behind Cristiano Ronaldo - suspended for Real's meeting with Elche on Saturday - in the La Liga scoring charts.
Costa could overhaul Ronaldo this weekend by replicating the double he scored against Osasuna in a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture in September.
But with the Brazilian-born forward one yellow card away from suspension, Simeone may opt to rest Costa and save him for the potentially pivotal derby clash with Real a week on Sunday.
Defender Filipe Luis and midfielder Tiago are poised to return for Atletico, but Javier Manquillo is still out with a neck injury.
Meanwhile, Osasuna remain without midfielders Miguel de las Cuevas (toe) and Patxi Punal (leg), while long-term absentees Nino and Sisi (both knee) are still on the sidelines.
Javi Gracia's men are only five points above the relegation zone, but have lost just two of their last nine La Liga outings, holding Real to a 2-2 draw at the start of that run.
Despite their improved form, Osasuna remain highly vulnerable at the back, as evidenced by recent 5-1 and 3-1 defeats to Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal respectively.
Osasuna's last win over Atletico came back in 2009, Walter Pandiani netting a double in a 3-0 triumph.
And winger Cristian Lobato knows his team-mates need to be more ruthless in order to secure a rare win over Simeone's men.
"We have to be aggressive and take every opportunity if we want to claim the points," Lobato said.
"Atletico is a team with great players, but we have to go for it."