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First Piqué, then Costa: Atlético striker leaves after half an hour

Apr 1, 2014, 3:26 PM EDT

FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-ATLETICOMADRID Getty Images

He wasn’t even supposed to play after suffering an injury in training yesterday. Now it looks like he should have sat this one out. Half an hour into today’s UEFA Champions League match in Barcelona, Atlético Madrid’s Diego Costa has left the game with an apparent right hamstring injury, lasting only 30 minutes in a match he wasn’t expected to play.

Yesterday, Atleti head coach Diego Simeone said Costa was “unlikely” to play after suffering a knee injury in training. His place in Tuesday’s teamed looked equally surprising and fortuitous when Barcelona lost Gerard Piqué to injury. Without him, the home side would be at a major size (and, potentially quality) disadvantage matching up with the Spanish international.

(MORE: Barcelona loses Gerard Piqué early against Atlético)

But with Costa apparently picking up a new injury, that advantage never surfaced. Instead, at the half-hour mark, Costa walked to the sidelines while clutching the back of his right thigh, with Brazilian attacking midfielder Diego called on to take his place.

Atlético is already without Raúl García, suspended for the first leg. That forced former Barcelona striker David Villa into the starting lineup in support of Costa. With Costa out, however, Villa will be tasked with carrying the load up front, with the team January signee from Wolfsburg brought in to bridge the gap between the midfield and attack.

Approaching halftime at the Nou Camp, the score is still 0-0, but both teams are dealing with losses. Gerardo Martino has had to call on Marc Bartra in central defense, while Simeone is down to his fourth choice in his two attacking spots.

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