Wednesday 18 October 2017

Guss Hiddink looks to 'agent provocateur' Diego Costa

Hiddink jumps to defence of Costa amid mind games

Already without captain John Terry, interim manager Hiddink is willing to take a gamble on Costa for the biggest game of Chelsea’s campaign. Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images
Already without captain John Terry, interim manager Hiddink is willing to take a gamble on Costa for the biggest game of Chelsea’s campaign. Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images

Matt Law

Diego Costa has been labelled a 'fraud' by Paris St-Germain's official Twitter account ahead of tonight's Champions League last-16 second leg against Chelsea with Guus Hiddink ready to take a risk on the striker's fitness.

And PSG manager Laurent Blanc has warned his players to remain cool in the face of any provocation that Costa dishes out of his own at Stamford Bridge.

Despite only completing half of Chelsea's final training session ahead of the tie because of the tendon injury that kept him out of the Stoke City match, Costa is expected to start against PSG.

Already without captain John Terry, interim manager Hiddink is willing to take a gamble on Costa for the biggest game of Chelsea's campaign that will decide whether the Blues stay in this season's Champions League and keep alive hopes of qualifying for next season's tournament.

Costa has been given the perfect motivation to dump PSG out of the Champions League after being targeted by the Twitter account of the French club.

PSG released a video yesterday with the message 'you've found the heroes? Ok, now find the imposter'. The film flicked through a series of images of masked superheroes, including Costa wearing his facial protection, with the strapline 'spot the fraud'.

Costa has been wearing a protective mask after breaking his nose in an accidental training ground clash with youth team player Fikayo Tomori.

Chelsea must score against PSG to stand any chance of overturning the 2-1 defeat they suffered in Paris and the French club are clearly aware of Costa's poor Champions League record that has seen him net just one goal in 14 appearances in the competition for the Blues.

Costa's only Champions League goal for Chelsea since signing from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2014 came in the group stage victory against Maccabi Tel Aviv last September.

Hiddink, however, has full faith in him, declaring: "Diego scored recently in not the worst league in the world - the Premier League. He's frequently scoring since December and January. Let's see and hope he can make it on a European level as well.

"Diego has behaved very well (for me) and I'm very proud of him and the way he's playing. He's not going over the edge, but he likes to fight in the real way of the game and that's what we like. I protect him and support him when he's doing what he's done in my period at Chelsea."

PSG will, no doubt, be hoping that their Twitter stunt winds Costa up sufficiently to get him into trouble.

The video could, however, backfire and inspire the 27-year-old to fire Chelsea through to the quarter-finals.

"Everyone knows Diego doesn't need any more motivation," said central defender Gary Cahill. "He's motivated, he's a winner, another big player.


"Diego Costa against Thiago Silva is a key clash between two world-class players. That'll be a good clash."

Blanc said: "There are two facets to Diego Costa - the player and the man," said Blanc.

"The player I like very much, a centre-forward who can score a lot of goals, has good movement, who works hard for the team. I'm a big fan of the player.

"We also know the man, a man who likes contact, duels, challenges, even provocation at times. That's part of his game. We saw that last year. He's a player used to playing like that. He doesn't just do that against PSG.

"I'll tell my players not to respond to that. We have to keep cool in the face of provocation.

"We can't respond to provocation, be it from Diego Costa or anyone else. We're away from home and were made to pay with that a bit last year. So we have to stay calm."

Having missed the Premier League draw against Stoke, Costa joined the rest of the squad for the start of trainingyesterday in front of the watching television cameras, but he returned to the dressing-room early to avoid aggravating his tendon problem.

Pedro Rodriguez also trained as he bids to return from a hamstring problem, but Terry was absent from the session.

Chelsea not only need to beat PSG to remain in this season's Champions League, but also to retain any chance of qualifying for next season's competition with the club 10 points behind fourth-placed Manchester City in the Premier League table. © Daily Telegraph, London. Comments Facility

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