Spain Alvaro Morata realistic over red-hot Diego Costa form

Reports in Spain suggest Diego Costa will start up front for La Rioja against Italy and Alvaro Morata accepts his rival's superb form.

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Alvaro Morata accepts Diego Costa's prolific run for Chelsea has probably pushed him below his fellow striker in the Spain pecking order.

Morata led the line for Spain during Euro 2016 and has eight goals in 15 international caps, but he has regularly found himself among the substitutes since returning to Real Madrid from Juventus during the close-season.

It was a position he took up for the national team as Costa, who missed out on the recent tournament altogether, started up-front and scored twice in the 8-0 demolition of Liechtenstein to launch World Cup qualifying under new boss Julen Lopetegui last month.

Costa has scored six goals in seven Premier League matches for Chelsea this season under Antonio Conte, who led Italy to a last-16 win over Spain in the European Championship.

Spain will seek revenge for that loss when they face Italy once more at Juventus Stadium on Thursday in their next Group G encounter.

"Surely [I have a disadvantage] because he has played more than me and has scored more goals," Morata told Cadena SER.

"I'm not going to kid myself. If I was the coach I would notice these things. I understand if Diego plays.

"He treats me well and gives me good advice – maybe he'll have to scrap it out with the defenders and then I can come on."

Morata believes Lopetegui has made his impact by handing a more prominent role to players who were previously mere squad members as Spain seek to build a fresh generation of success after their golden period of three major tournament wins between 2008 and 2012.

The striker added: "People who were not so important before are now taking more weight, like Koke, Thiago [Alcantara].

"It is important that the style stays as before but with young players.

"The atmosphere is still very good. [Lopetegui] may have changed the intensity, but that is normal when a new coach arrives.

"Everything is much more tactical now."

And Morata confirmed Lopetegui has sought inside knowledge on Italy following his time with the Serie A champions – even if it did not do Spain or his predecessor Vicente del Bosque much good last time around.

"Yes, [Del Bosque] asked me and I gave my opinion," he said. "In the end they were better and won well.

"I have now spoken with Julen, who asked me things about Italy. Tactically it is a perfect team and we are working to see how to beat them."

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