Comment: Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho can thank Spain coach for helping Diego Costa find more form, with Manchester United next up

A Different League

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The Independent Football

Vicente del Bosque and Jose Mourinho have history. During the Chelsea manager’s time at Real Madrid the Spain coach believed the way Mourinho cranked up the drama surrounding the Clasicos, with his Spain players on opposing sides, was bad for the national team, and never held back from saying so.

Del Bosque completely approved of Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas’s phone call to Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez to calm the waters when relations between the two clubs reached their lowest point; Mourinho, in contrast, hated the thought that one of his troops had picked up the phone to the enemy.

All that considered, it is no surprise the two have fallen out over Diego Costa. Mourinho was furious with Del Bosque after believing that Costa’s hamstring problem had been made worse playing for Spain earlier this month.

“My phone is always on,” Del Bosque said this week when asked about Mourinho’s gripes. “And I can never reach my glasses quickly enough to see who’s calling so I always pick up.”

He went on to say this matter was too serious to joke about. But it was too late, he already had – the gag being that if his phone lit up with “Mou calling” on the screen he would not see it clearly enough to know not to answer.

  Seasoned Mourinho watchers will not be at all surprised if Costa runs out for Chelsea against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday with a spring in his step and a smile almost as broad as the Chelsea manager’s. There is also the suspicion that deep down Mourinho knows that Del Bosque did his player a favour by playing him against Luxembourg on 12 October.

He played 90 minutes in the game three days before against Slovakia. They beat the European Champions 2-1, making Costa’s selection for the Luxembourg game even more necessary.

 

Yet Del Bosque was under pressure, not so much to rest the Chelsea forward, as to drop him and bring in the Valencia striker Paco Alcacer, but he resisted the calls and played them both. Costa performed well and scored, so was able to go back to London with a weight lifted from his shoulders, and maybe a tightening hamstring.

Del Bosque needs Mourinho onside as Spain build a team around Costa and Cesc Fabregas. The Spain coach is also a huge fan of the Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta, whom he sees as someone he can play on the left, the right, and even in the centre. Del Bosque said last week: “He is going to be with us for many years. Nobody trains better and he has extraordinary quality; he can play where he wants.”

Mourinho needs Del Bosque less than the Spain coach needs him, but having Costa full of confidence after scoring for Spain can only be good news for Chelsea, and bad news for United’s defence.

Boot golden pair into touch this time

Saturday’s El Clasico will pit Cristiano Ronaldo against Lionel Messi once again and the two greatest players in the modern game will then feature in the 23-man shortlist for the Ballon D’or, which Fifa and France Football magazine will publish three days later. A two-month debate will ensue over who is the better player, Ronaldo or Messi.

Ronaldo’s goals earned him the European Golden Shoe last season but he had a poor World Cup. Messi reached the World Cup final but failed to win a trophy. Arjen Robben, Philip Lahm and Angel Di Maria combined good World Cups with domestic honours and would make more deserving Golden Ball winners.

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