The Bayern man returns for November’s Superclasico after a spell on the sidelines that has seen dramatic changes to the team he left six months ago
Douglas Costa was supposed to have been back a couple of times already. Since his last appearance for his country, in March, two different coaches have been asked to join two separate major international tournaments and four World Cup qualifiers.
But his hamstring just wouldn’t let go. “I am really looking forward to getting back to work with the national team and the new coach,” he told TV Globo’s Esporte Espetacular this week.
“I did not go to Copa America; I did not go to the Olympics. I have been called up since, but every time I could not go.”
The flying Bayern Munich winger is now set to return for November’s Superclasico clash with Argentina in World Cup qualifying. But much has changed since he left. Former coach Dunga has gone – so too has the dark cloud that hung over the Selecao since World Cup 2014.
In his absence, Brazil romped to an Olympic gold before new coach Tite led the senior side to four consecutive victories that have them topping Conmebol’s World Cup qualifying table just past the halfway stage.
And Tite has built a team without him. Douglas Costa left as a key member for the first XI, he returns as the fifth in the pecking order for three places.
Even Willian, who featured in every game but one between World Cup 2014 and Dunga’s departure, is now ostensibly on the outside looking in, desperately trying to win his place back from Philippe Cooutinho.
With Neymar and Coutinho favourites to flank striker Gabriel Jesus, Douglas Costa will have to take his place in line. No that it will concern the Bayern winger who headed to Bavaria under Pep Guardiola despite the presence of the immovable Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.
“At Bayern, you work to play because as you can see last year we had Robben, Ribery, [Kingsley] Coman and me,” Douglas Costa said.
“You find a balance and the team grows, with everyone ready to play. With the Selecao, every substitute is a starter in their club teams, so the competition is always top notch. We have to continue like this and the Selecao will continue to grow.”
And Douglas Costa agrees that Gabriel Jesus and Neymar will be vital to that growth.
“Since Tite took over, Brazil have had great performances and fully deserve to be in first place,” he said.
“Gabriel is getting along brilliant with Neymar after the Olympics and is maturing a lot. To have that confidence in those who play in attack is very important.
Douglas Costa will now hope he can add to that confidence by joining the party. Fighting fit and back on form after netting in Bayern’s 2-0 victory over Gladbach at the weekend, he is also in high spirits – as illustrated by his selfie celebration at the Allianz Arena
His muscle problems seemingly behind him, Douglas Costa is back. This time, he hopes, for good