Madrid: Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa looks certain to miss Sunday’s La Liga game at home to Malaga, after a scan showed he has a thigh muscle injury.
Atletico’s top scorer this season with 27 goals in La Liga and eight in the Champions League, Costa, was unable to train with his team mates on Friday, Atletico said on their website.
However, the scan showed the Brazil-born Spain striker had not torn the muscle, suggesting he should recover in time for the match at Barcelona on the final day of the season on May 18 and the Champions League final on May 24.
Atletico are within striking distance of a surprise domestic league triumph, which would be their first since they won a La Liga and King’s Cup double in 1996 with a team featuring current coach Diego Simeone.
It is one of the closest finishes to the title race in years, after Madrid’s second club emerged as genuine contenders to challenge the dominance of far wealthier Real Madrid and Barca. With two games left, Atletico top the table on 88 points, three ahead of champions Barca, who are chasing a fifth title in six years. Real, Atletico’s opponents in the Champions League final in Lisbon, are third on 84 points.
Meanwhile, Real centre back Pepe may be a doubt for the Champions League final after being diagnosed with a calf injury in his left leg, the La Liga club said on Friday.
Real did not say how long the Portugal international, who has formed a solid partnership with Spain’s Sergio Ramos for Real this season, would be out of action but local media reported it would be around two weeks.
Apart from the showpiece Champions League final, Real have two more La Liga matches at hand – a game at Celta Vigo on Sunday and a home meeting with Espanyol on the final day of the season.
If either Pepe or Ramos are out, Real coach Carlo Ancelotti typically deploys France defender Raphael Varane, whose appearances have been limited this season following a serious knee injury.