Champions League pain lingers for Torres
YOKOHAMA, Japan (AFP) –
Spanish striker Fernando Torres says winning the Club World Cup would not make up for the disappointment of Chelsea’s embarrassingly early exit from the Champions League.
The English giants, preparing for Thursday’s semi-final in Japan, last week became the first holders in Champions League history to crash out at the group stage.
It capped a miserable spell for Chelsea during which they slipped off the pace in the Premier League and popular manager Roberto Di Matteo was sacked.
“It wouldn’t make up for the Champions League, they are different things,” said Torres in comments published on the Chelsea website, referring to the Club World Cup.
“It was a dream to win it last season and we wanted to do it again this time to be the first team to do two in a row, and it’s a big disappointment to go out in the group stage.
“But now we must forget the Champions League, because we are out, and focus on this instead. There are not many chances to play in this competition, so we have to take it. Who knows if we will play in another one?”
And Torres, who won the World Cup with Spain in 2010, insisted the showpiece tournament offered the 2012 Champions League winners the chance to call themselves world champions despite the mixed bag of quality of show.
“How many people don’t take this tournament seriously, or don’t think it is like the real World Cup?” the 28-year-old said.
“It is for the clubs. You ask the South American people. (Defender) David Luiz showed me a video of Corinthians fans at the airport. It was full of fans cheering the team and travelling to Japan to support, so it is important.
“In Europe maybe we don’t give it as much attention, and to some people it might not mean much, but to me it does, so this is not a holiday or a break, this is a world cup.
“It’s nice to be involved, and maybe to be able to say you are a world champion,” Torres said.
The much-maligned Torres has struggled for goals since his big-money move from Liverpool two years ago but has netted four times in two games, including a brace in Chelsea’s morale-boosting weekend victory over Sunderland.
The Blues, taking part in their first Club World Cup, take on Mexican side Monterrey in Yokohama.
Victory would likely set up a mouthwatering tie with Brazilian giants Corinthians, who face Egypt’s Al Ahly on Wednesday in the other semi-final in the tournament, which has also featured part-timers Auckland City and J-League winners Sanfrecce Hiroshima.