Chelsea striker Costa feeling more comfortable in Spain squad

The burly frontman endured a controversial and troubled introduction into the national side, but he is thriving under the guidance of Julen Lopetegui

Spain striker Diego Costa has thanked coach Julen Lopetegui for making him feel more at home at international level.

Brazilian-born Costa switched allegiance to Spain ahead of the 2014 World Cup despite having played two friendlies for the country of his birth.

Simeone: Costa was Atleti's Messi

The Chelsea star struggled badly as the then-reigning world champions were the first side eliminated from the competition and he failed to make Vicente del Bosque's squad for Euro 2016.

But Lopetegui has brought the 28-year-old back into the fold and he scored his fourth goal of the qualification campaign for Russia 2018 in Spain's 4-1 win over Israel on Friday.

"It's really important when the coach has the trust in you," Costa told reporters.

"Del Bosque trusted me a lot, and with the time I was more comfortable in the national team.

"Everything was important - Lopetegui and all the time I spent with my teammates [under Del Bosque].

Hazard: Belgium play like Chelsea

Article continues below

"I'm more comfortable now, little by little I'm getting more confident and I'm improving my game."

Spain lead Italy at the top of Group G on goal difference and travel to Paris for a friendly against France on Tuesday.