Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke says an almost telepathic understanding with Diego Costa has seen the two combine for so many goals in recent times.
Koke currently leads La Liga’s assists rankings with 13, while Costa has hit 33 goals in all competitions already this season.
Of the Vallecas-born midfielder’s 27 career assists in Spain’s top flight, 14 have been for Costa goals, and he told AS that the pair had built up an unspoken understanding over years of playing together.
Koke has attracted the attentions of Manchester United following his rise at Atletico.”We have known each other for many years,” Koke said. “I know his movements, and he knows mine. Just seeing him run into space I know I need to try and put the ball where he can score. Sometimes without looking we understand each other. He can talk to me with a gesture and I understand him.”
Costa, 25, is a doubt for Wednesday’s Champions League quarterfinal second leg against Atletico Madrid due to a thigh strain, and Koke, 22, said the Brazil-born Spain international had been working overtime to recover for the game.
“It is something for the doctor and the physios,” he said. “Costa looks happy to me, he is having treatment, resting… I hope he makes it. He really wants to play this game, and all games. We know these are Champions League quarterfinals. Who would not want to play them? But he must be patient as he could risk being out for longer.”
The Spain international said he and his teammates were prepared for a similarly physical and tactical game as in last week’s first leg at the Camp Nou.
“Already in Barcelona we played a really great game,” Koke said. “We were physical and we brought them onto our ground. And we must keep along the same line: defend well, be very tight together and counter attack well. All games are different and you must put effort in. With their characteristics they make you run a lot. [Lionel] Messi is not just about goals. He also creates them and makes the team play. Our team works well defensively, from up front back to the keeper.”
Atletico are also currently top of La Liga, with just six games of the season remaining, and Koke said he was aware of what a great season the team was putting in.
“Sometimes when you are at home you stop to think and you say — ‘we are doing something big here’,” he said. “It is very nice, but it is not over yet. We must keep along this line. The team is doing something incredible. We are not feeling any vertigo. We are excited and satisfied with work well done. We must be happy with what we are doing. But there is no vertigo from being up top.”