Spain Euro 2012 Focus - Torres’ confidence returning?
What a difference a striker makes. Perhaps Spain would not have been so comfortable had Fernando Torres started in the opening Euro 2012 fixture, but the fact 4-0 probably should have been more against a Republic of Ireland side drilled to be difficult to beat bodes well for La Roja.
Vicente del Bosque will still insist he was correct to play with six midfielders against Italy, and although he was not proven right tactically, dropping Torres may well have given the striker the motivation he required to put an awful season behind him. And now the Chelsea man could become key to Spain’s push to retain the European Championship.
Indeed, Torres has admitted after del Bosque dropped him from the squad for Spain’s 5-0 win over Venezuela in February he lost some of his love for the game. From his performance against Ireland it is clear Torres intends to make the most of scraping into the squad and repay the faith del Bosque has shown by giving him a second chance. That should be a worry for Spain’s next opponents, Croatia, as well as the teams the holders will face in the knockout stages - possibly England in the quarter-finals.
Before Torres went off the boil some two years ago he was arguably one of the best strikers on the planet. That Torres had the lot - pace, power, skill and a good leap. At that time, in his early Liverpool years, the Spaniard loved the game. He loved the fans, he loved to train and he loved to worry defences wherever he went. Clearly, Ireland’s defence have not lived up to the expectations of being solid and hard to break down, and Torres will meet much stronger centre-backs throughout the rest of the tournament, but during the 4-0 win Torres looked confident once more. Something he hasn’t been since before Spain’s World Cup triumph in 2010.
The other thing Torres needs is service. And with the midfield players at del Bosque’s disposal there will be no lack of chances created, whoever the opposition. Arguably the key player to link with Torres will be David Silva. The Manchester City man already has three assists and a goal to his name and has been involved in everything good for Spain so far. So much has been said about the Xavi-Iniesta partnership from Barcelona, but the Premier League duo of Torres and Silva might be the one to fire Spain to glory.
The Croatia fixture will be a good test of Spain’s balance. Slaven Bilic’s team have a strong midfield and attack, so del Bosque’s holding players and defence might face their sternest test to date. Whether or not Spain keep a clean sheet is important for when they come to face the likes of Germany, but with a firing Torres, Silva and the passing game La Roja displayed against the Irish it is not difficult to imagine Spain outscoring almost any team left in the competition. And Torres will be hungry to add to his Irish brace.
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