Soccer

Brazilian-born Costa out of Spain's friendlies

MADRID (AP) — Brazilian-born Diego Costa will have to wait a little longer before playing his first game for Spain, after pulling out of two upcoming friendlies with an injury.

The Atletico Madrid striker, a naturalized Spanish citizen, has a muscle injury in his right leg, the Spanish federation said on Monday. "Diego is not in conditions to be called up for these games," Spain team doctor Oscar Luis Celada said. "It's a pity."

Atletico confirmed the news on its website, saying Costa had finished Sunday's 1-1 draw at Villarreal with discomfort in his leg. Juventus striker Fernando Llorente, who was part of Spain's 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship winning squads, will take Costa's spot.

Spain travels to Equatorial Guinea for a game on Saturday before playing South Africa next week. Costa had been embroiled in a trans-Atlantic, national team tug-of-war between World Cup champion Spain and host Brazil before choosing to play for the defending champions in the buildup to next year's tournament.

While Costa did feature in a friendly for Brazil, he never played a competitive match for his native country so he remains eligible to play for the European and world champions. Costa has been playing in Spain since 2007 and credits his success to his adopted home.

Costa's next chance to impress coach Vicente del Bosque would be in March when Spain plays Italy in a friendly. Costa has been one of the revelations of the season, scoring 16 goals as Atletico sits second in the Spanish standings and has already qualified for the next round of the Champions League.

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