Simeone excited by Griezmann, Costa and Morata trident

The Argentine coach expects his star attackers to develop a partnership as the season goes on, with Thomas Lemar providing extra speed

Diego Costa’s return from injury means Atletico Madrid could use the striker with Alvaro Morata and Antoine Griezmann in a front three, says Diego Simeone.

Costa came off the bench after 10 weeks out with a foot injury as Atletico won 1-0 at his old club Rayo Vallecano to move back up to second in La Liga on Saturday.

Morata’s arrival from Chelsea in the January transfer window has boosted Simeone’s attacking options, but it was Greizmann who came up with a second-half winner.

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The striker has moved ahead of Fernando Torres to become the fifth top scorer in Atletico’s history on 130 strikes, having hit the winner in three consecutive defeats of Rayo.

Simeone used Greizmann and Thomas Lemar as wingers when Costa was introduced as a central partner for Morata, but he plans to field the three strikers as a trio.

“I love it, but it needs time, work, extraordinary physical condition of the three,” the coach, who signed a new contract this week, told a news conference. 

“I hope that at some point we can use it with more time. Lemar’s entry gave us more speed and dynamism.”

Costa needed surgery to resolve a longstanding foot injury and Simeone was delighted to welcome the striker back to action for the first time since the start of December.

“I see him very strong, it was not easy to enter the game,” he said.

“He joined the team very well, he worked very well defensively and that made me very happy. hey fear him and that strengthens us as a team. He takes the game forward.

“Costa gave Morata more chances to feel more free and comfortable, and as always, Griezmann, who is the important player we have, taking advantage of everything that can happen in front of him.”

Simeone further hailed Griezmann, who has scored eight goals in six appearances against Rayo and took his LaLiga tally for the season to 12.

“Griezmann is an extraordinary player who adapts to all the needs of the team,” Simeone added.

“He has come as an inside player on the left and he has finished playing everywhere, he is a fundamental player and he is in a brilliant moment.”