Brazil will certainly not disappoint with their lineup of attackers at the World Cup this summer, with many predicting a starting XI that will see Neymar and Philippe Coutinho flank striker Gabriel Jesus. The Selecao will induce fear into every defence that faces them with such a wicked forward line, however their excellence in this area doesn’t stop there.
Juventus winger Douglas Costa may be slightly behind that trio in terms of the pecking order, but is ideally placed to spring a surprise on unwitting opposition from off the bench. An explosion of pace, skill and trickery upon entering the field is something that has been seen time and time again in Serie A this term, the Brazil international devastating when unleashed by Coach Massimiliano Allegri.
“He is one of those players who can make the difference and break a game open,” declared the Coach after Costa had come off the sidelines at half-time to provide two assists versus Bologna on May 5th. “Last night he became a father to a little girl, so he didn’t get much sleep and I left him initially on the bench.”
That match also saw the winger almost score a sublime goal with a cheeky rabona effort right at the end, only for the shot to go just wide. This was nothing new, however as the former Bayern Munich man had assisted Mario Mandzukic for the winner in just six minutes of Champions League action versus Sporting back in October.
Furthermore, he replaced Miralem Pjanic just before half-time in a 3-0 win over Sampdoria at the end of 2017/18, after which Allegri joked he was glad the Bosnian had suffered an injury as Costa weighed in with a hat-trick of assists. Speed, skill and comfort on the ball are all things this player is blessed with in abundance, and his domestic form proves just how much of an impact he could make at this summer’s tournament in Russia.
Statistics reveal that Costa – who started just 18 times in Serie A last term – led the league in successful take-ons, preferring to dribble past opposition defenders before crossing the ball rather than cutting inside. Those figures show that the Brazilian did so 106 times, one more than Alejandro “Papu” Gomez in second place, despite the Juventus man having taken part in 965 minutes less action than his Atalanta counterpart.
This can only serve to assist Brazil as their bid to lift a sixth World Cup trophy begins next week, and something that Coach Tite cannot fail to have noticed when observing Costa during domestic action this season. With the prospect of extra time something to consider, this player will be the ultimate danger for those with tired legs, a fresh and potent weapon for the Canarinhos to unleash at the perfect moment.
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