Can new improved Torres make the difference for Spain?
The great 1970s TV programme ‘Fawlty Towers’ left its mark by being voted Britain’s fifth best sitcom in 2004, and the way Fernando Torres is going he’s bound to leave an indelible print on English football.
‘Fawlty Towers’ only lasted four years, in which a mere 12 episodes were shot. No doubt Liverpool will want the 24-year-old Torres to stick around a little longer, even if he didn’t sparkle at the weekend against Manchester United.
But this is international week, and it’s a good time to consider whether Torres might be the man to lead Spain to long-overdue success at Euro 2008.
As Simon Baskett writes in his preview, Wednesday’s friendly against Italy is the perfect time for Torres to show his country how far he has come since leaving Atletico Madrid for Liverpool last summer.
As a 17-year-old, Torres became the youngest player to take the field in an Atletico shirt, and two years later he became the youngest player to captain the side. As if this wasn’t enough, that season (2003-4) he also made his international debut.
His first year in the Spanish top flight yielded 13 goals from 29 appearances which was an impressive return for an 18/19-year-old, but since then he has added a lot more to his game.
I’m thinking mainly about his willingness to get stuck in, just one of the many hurdles for foreign players to overcome if they want to succeed in the Premiership.
Back in September Torres was having lumps kicked out of him by Reading’s Andre Bikey during a league cup match but responded with a hat-trick rather than a sulk.
Then there are the goals – 27 of them this season.
Greece’s victory in the last European Championship continued a trend that has seen the last four titles going to the team with the greatest collective understanding.
That is in stark contrast to the two previous tournaments - events that are remembered for the genius of Platini in 1984 and the combination of Van Basten and Gullitt in 1988.
So, will this year’s European championships be won by a ‘whole’ team or a squad containing a few talismanic individuals? And with Torres, Fabregas et al, can Spain now claim to stand in the latter camp?
PHOTO: Torres falls to the ground after a tackle by France’s Lilian Thuram during a friendly in Malaga, February 6, 2008. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo