There is this lot of babel and brouhaha surrounding one man called Fernando Torres, a world class striker with brilliant agility, dribbling skills and a finish that is second to none. Such is the finesse. Such is his class. Torres, after a lively and committed display in his last few games for Chelsea this past season, displayed another performance befitting his stature in the warm up game, until he did a Ronnie Rosenthal, or at least many feel so.
It is surprising that many football aficionados bring in their personal dislike towards certain clubs to the fore and slandering Torres as the reason why Spain weren’t able to win their game against Italy last week, when he was the only man from Spain who even opened up the stubborn Italian defense. We had a certain Robin Van Persie who was almost non-existent in front of the Dutch goal throughout the game and not a word was uttered in the press criticizing his performance, while Fernando Torres was again the fodder for the entire Twitter population and Football satirical websites. Taking the face value of how his career has panned out after his high profile move to Chelsea, one cannot imagine what goes in his mind. He is the Football’s version of LeBron James. One feels that the whole world is against him. The pressure on his shoulders cannot be measured by a Barometer. A clear quantifiable equivalent is the pressure thrust upon Sachin Tendulkar. He has gone for a Golden Duck, played shots at times that are below his caliber. But never can one take away the quality he possesses. The hope that only he can create amongst the fans that, it is a new day; a fresh start and magic can happen. This is very much the case with Torres.
After the recent tirade against Torres, I guess it’s time to revisit that ‘Great miss’ against Manchester United and do a comparative analysis of his performance against Italy in this past week.
The miss against Manchester United at Old Trafford last season, was just a miss. He did score in that game and looked dangerous in most of the games he featured this season. I am not sure how many of even the Chelsea fans remember that brilliant dribble performed by him to get past De Gea, only to be brought back into the harsh reality that only football can bestow upon us humans. We have witnessed articles highlighting the redundant facts – A striker without confidence, or who’s past his best, etc. But such a striker doesn’t get to the point where he can miss a dolly. The usual turn of events are – he passes it, fires over/wide, or loses it in the moment. He doesn’t drag it past the goal-keeper, only to shoot it wide in front of the empty net. He looked insecure of himself, and looked incapable of scoring so far, only that it ain’t the case. Less than a minute into the second half, Torres scored assuredly from Anelka’s incisive pass. The finish was that of a world-class striker. Fernando Torres played like the Fernando Torres who was dressed in Red. He is not close to his best by any means, but it was largely a great performance. The miss should be viewed as an isolated incident. An anti-climax of sorts. After this cruel miss, Torres was absolutely livid with himself and did not show any signs of helplessness or exasperation- a metamorphosis of sorts from the old, uncertain Torres who looked desolated and down when he broke down an attack.
Fast forward nine months to Gdansk – Fernando Torres against Italy.
The first chance was a natural movement displayed, that is innate to a striker, which no other player in the Spain team would’ve performed. Fernando Llorente or Cesc Fabregas – both have had a better season than Torres but, I don’t see them making that type of a run. In the second chance, El Nino picks up the loose ball, gives it to Xavi and runs for the return ball, which again, no other player in the Spanish team would’ve done. And after that, he drops a shoulder and beats the last defender very well. If it were someone else, they would’ve turned back and passed. In simpler terms, if it weren’t for Torres, the two chances wouldn’t have been created at all. Also, one needs to accept the fact that Torres was charging against Buffon who is no Victor Valdes. Torres had nowhere to go except to the right hand side of the pitch. He could have tried a chip but Buffon, one of the best in the world, was converging way too fast. Any striker would have gone towards the right side and Buffon, being such an experienced keeper, knew that. That’s exactly what denied Torres his chance and it had nothing to do with his alleged inability with the ball.
We all have witnessed Kobe Bryant, Allan Iverson and even Reggie Miller missing free throws at crucial junctures. At times, the momentary lapse in judgment and overconfidence makes them look asinine to the world. There are many factors enough to convince any optimist that Fernando Torres is back. A minor glitch happens when there is any kind of reconstruction happening. Possibility of a Torres return looks imminent. But again, possibility is different and probability is another parameter. ”The night is the darkest before dawn” said Harvey Dent. Torres may stand testimony to that. When the whole world is going against you, you sometimes need to walk alone to prove them wrong.