Atletico Madrid began life without Radamel Falcao with a 3-1 win away to Sevilla on Sunday, but they face a far more daunting task against Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday.
A double from Brazilian forward Diego Costa overshadowed David Villa’s debut for Atleti after Spain’s all-time record goalscorer joined from Barca for a paltry initial fee of just 2.1 million euros last month.
However, Costa believes Villa will prove to be a more than capable deputy for Falcao who scored 70 goals in his two seasons with Los Rojiblancos before a 60 million euro move to Monaco in June.
“You notice the absence of Falcao because he is a great player, but we have Villa who is also a beast and we know that he is going to do just as well,” Costa said.
“His work and commitment for the team is amazing. He is a very humble person and he has a great attitude. I think with the quality he has he will give a lot to Atletico.”
Villa will be desperate to impress against his former employers after never truly getting a consistent run in the side after breaking his tibia in the Club World Cup back in December 2011.
A troublesome on field relationship with Lionel Messi and Barca’s capture of Neymar in June made Villa’s exit from the Camp Nou somewhat inevitable.
But with Champions League football and a regular starting place on offer at Atleti he has the perfect platform to show he should be Vicente Del Bosque’s first-choice striking option come the World Cup next year.
Under Diego Simeone’s tutelage Atleti have improved mightily and an unlikely success against the Catalans over two legs would mean a fourth trophy in a year.
Simeone ruled out any idea of a title challenge from Atleti in the strongest terms following the Sevilla result, castigating La Liga as a “boring” championship that is only about two clubs.