Torres: Back to square one
Anyone expecting Spain to be in a state of shock after USA put an end to their historic runs of 15 consecutive wins and 35 games unbeaten should think again. Speaking to FIFA.com at the end of his side's 2-0 FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final defeat to the Americans, Fernando Torres vowed that La Roja will be going all out to win the play-off for third place and start all over again.
"What hurts most is going out in the semi-finals of a big competition, not the end of the run," explained the Liverpool goal-getter. "We knew that we couldn't possibly win every single game from now to the end of our careers and that the run would have to come to an end some day. We just didn't expect it to be here in South Africa, but that's the way it is. These things happen when you least expect them."
The blond-haired hitman, who notched a hat-trick in Spain's opening match against New Zealand, sees Sunday's match in Rustenburg as an opportunity to start yet another record-breaking sequence. "When you lose a game and you've got a lot of players who can barely remember the last time it happened, then it shows that you're on the right track. In fact, I'd rather this happen now than at the 2010 World Cup."
"We have to go back to square one now and start putting some more wins together," continued Torres before adding with a broad smile on his face, "I'd love us to go another 35 matches without losing. That would be great, especially with a World Cup in the middle."
Though El Niño and the rest of his team-mates appear to have taken defeat to the Americans in their stride, that does not mean to say they are relieved to see the end of a lengthy purple patch in which they earned the admiration of the entire footballing world. "Absolutely not," countered Torres emphatically. "I wanted us to win even more games. We didn't feel any extra pressure just because we were winning game after game. Something like that can only give you confidence. At the end of the day the USA took their chances up front, kept it tight at the back and deserved to win. You've got to congratulate them on that."
"The most important thing now is that we keep on showing the same down-to-earth approach as we did when we went all that time unbeaten," added the former Atletico Madrid prodigy. "I don't think anyone can say we ever showed a lack of respect to our opponents in that time. USA were the better side because they coped with the pressure we put on them and scored the goals. We'll try to take something out of the game and improve, just as we've been doing up to today."
Just to underline the scale of the Americans' achievement, only two sides (Finland in an October 2007 friendly and Italy in the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2008) have prevented the Spanish, spearheaded by the deadly duo of Torres and David Villa, from scoring in the last two and a half years.
In earning their notable win, Bob Bradley's side were brave up front and resolute at the back, qualities that Torres was well aware they possessed. "We saw how much better USA played with two strikers against Egypt, and when they decide to go on the offensive they are a really dangerous team. I still think we did ok though. We created chance after chance and didn't take any, while they put theirs away."
Spain's immediate priorities are Sunday's match for third place and the remainder of their qualification matches for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. And as the gifted striker confirmed, their hunger for success remains undiminished. "Records are nice for everyone on the outside but as far as we concerned tonight is not the end for us. Far from it. The really big challenges are only just beginning."