May 10, 2014, 4:53 PM EDT
Diego Costa has scored 38 percent of his team’s league goals, highest among La Liga’s top 10 scorers, but thanks to a thigh injury that kept the Atletico Madrid striker out of Friday training, Spain’s leaders may be without their top scorer when Malaga visits on Sunday.
Costa reportedly returned to training on Saturday after taking the previous day off to have an MRI, but given the Colchoneros’ run-in, head coach Diego Simeone may choose to be cautious. Though Atletico have a chance to win the title tomorrow, clinching at the Vicente Calderon would require Barcelona to drop points at Elche. More likely than not, Atleti will need a healthy Costa on the 18th when they close the season at the Nou Camp.
If Simeone exercises that caution, he’ll be excluding a player that’s provided 27 goals, but the Atletico boss won’t lack options. David Villa has scored 13 times in 34 appearances, Raul Garcia is scoring once every 175 league minutes, while Koke has six goals this season. If Atletico misses Costa at home against 13th place Malaga, it will have less to do with the talented striker than the performance of his teammates.
Atletico can clinch its first title since 1996 with a win and a draw or loss from Barcelona at Elche. If Atleti and Barca each win on Sunday, a draw in Catalonia on the 18th will be enough to give Atletico the title.
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