Costa set to for Spain debut
Madrid - Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa could make his debut for Spain after being named in Vicente del Bosque's 22-man squad for the world champions' friendly at home to Italy on March 5.
Costa completed the nationalisation process that allowed him to switch allegiances from Brazil to Spain in time for La Roja's friendlies against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa last November, but was forced to miss both games due to injury.
He is now expected to make his bow on home soil at the Vicente Calderon after scoring 27 times in all competitions this season.
"His is a singular case, he was born in Brazil but he has formed into a footballer in Spain and has shown in his club that he deserves to come into the squad, that is why we have called him up."
Gerard Pique is the only significant absentee through injury from the final match Spain will play before Del Bosque names his squad to defend the World Cup in Brazil later this year.
There was disappointment for David Villa, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata as all three were left out.
However, Del Bosque insisted that there was still plenty of time for those left out of the squad to make their case for a World Cup berth between now and the end of the season.
"This is a list exclusively for the game against Italy. We have practically three months of the season in front of us which could ratify those in this list or include others."
Bayern Munich's Thiago Alcantara is rewarded for his impressive form for the Bundesliga champions with a call-up to the senior squad for the first time this season.
Torres' Chelsea teammate Cesar Azpilicueta is also included for the first time since the Confederations Cup ahead of Real Madrid's Alvaro Arbeloa.
The match will be a rematch of the 2012 European Championsip final, which Spain won 4-0.
However, both sides played out a far more competitive clash in the semi-finals of last year's Confederations Cup semi-final with Spain only progressing on penalties after a 0-0 draw after 120 minutes.
And the former Real Madrid boss is expecting another stiff test as preparation for a demanding start to their World Cup campaign as they face against Holland and Chile in their first two games in Brazil.
"Italy is one of the best teams in the world. They have a base of Juventus players and we have had tough meetings with them.
"The Confederations Cup game was agonising and the final of the Euros was one of the best games we have played."
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Pepe Reina (Napoli/ITA)
Defenders: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich/GER), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea/ENG), Juanfran Torres (Atletico Madrid), Raul Albiol (Napoli/ITA)
Midfielders: Xavi Hernandez, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas (all Barcelona), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), David Silva (Manchester City/ENG), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich/GER), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal/ENG)
Forwards: Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo (both Manchester City/ENG), Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)