Tuesday’s last 16 World Cup clash between Spain and Portugal only came to life when one of Spain’s top players came off the pitch.
Fernando Torres came off early in the second half and was replaced by Athletic Bilbao star Fernando Llorente.
The 25 year-old’s introduction had an immediate impact as shortly after he replaced Torres Spain scored.
The giant striker had his best scoring campaign last term scoring eight goals in the Europa League and getting into double figures in La Liga.
He has now made eight appearances for his country and scored three goals. He was considered a back-up player before the tournament started but impressed in his cameo against Portugal. He added a physical presence up front.
He added an extra dimension to the Spanish side. He may have done better with two decent chances but they were not the easiest chances in the world. He is Spain’s plan B. The likes of England, France and Italy didn’t have a plan B but Spain have and that’s why they are regarded as one of the best international sides in the world and their rivals headed home early from South Africa.
Anyway back to the player Llorente replaced Fernando Torres. The Liverpool striker has looked limp and has struggled to find his best form at the World Cup. He doesn’t look like his usual pacy self.
Torres missed the last few months of the last Premier League season after undergoing knee surgery. There were even doubts that he would make the Spanish squad. Everybody knew though that if the 26 year-old was anywhere near fit he would back in the squad.
He obviously hasn’t fully recovered from the injury and hasn’t had enough time to recuperate. The Spanish fans must be hoping he gets back to his best at some point in the tournament. Unfortunately I don’t think he will have time to get fit enough to get back to his best
His international strike-partner David Villa told Sky Sports: “We know what state his knee was in a month ago and I don’t agree with those who say that Fernando Torres’s performances have been below par,”
“The only blame you can pin on him in the opening stages (of the World Cup) is that he hasn’t scored. His desire to be with the team has been spectacular.”
By contrast Villa is currently vying for the golden boot having already scored four goals in South Africa. Torres also failed to score in qualification.
Torres is not the only high-profile player to disappoint in South Africa. The likes of England’s Wayne Rooney and Portugal’s CristianoRonaldo proved to be major disappointments at the World Cup. So Torres isn’t alone in underperforming. At least Torres has a reason for his poor performances; the other two however have no defence for their poor performances.
With Liverpool’s current struggles Torres has been linked with a move away from Anfield. A price tag of £70million has been mentioned with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea believed to be interested in signing the striker.
Liverpool are massively in debt and won’t be able to offer Champions League football next season. Maybe this summer would be a good time for him to consider a new challenge. There wouldn’t be a shortage of offers if he did decide to move on.
It’s unlikely that Spanish boss Vicente Del Bosque will drop the Liverpool striker. He knows that if he regains some of his match sharpness then he will again be a deadly weapon in front of goal.
If the Spanish boss does decide to drop the 26 year-old it’s more likely that he will switch to a 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 than use the very useful Llorente. It will be hard on Llorente but Spain has such an array of options available to them that you have to be something special to get into their starting line-up.
Should Torres keep his place in the Spanish starting line-up for their quarter-final clash with Paraguay?