Fernando Torres may not have hit top form in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ yet but Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque insists the Liverpool striker remains a major threat to opposition defenders.
Torres had to play catch-up with regards to his preparations for the FIFA World Cup after missing the majority of Spain's build-up having undergone knee surgery in April. His only appearance in the warm-up matches came during Spain's final friendly against Poland, and although he managed to score in a 6-0 win in that match, he has failed to get off the mark in three Group H games in South Africa.
The former Atletico Madrid man has had the chances but has not been able to make the most of them. Nevertheless, Del Bosque is still pleased with what Torres has contributed to Spain's qualification for the last 16, even it if has not been goals. "What's important is that he's played in the three games and has progressed in his preparation," Del Bosque said.
He's a player who even though he hasn't scored goals he benefits us as someone who makes it hard for opposing defences and who is always a threat to the other team.
"He's a player who even though he hasn't scored goals he benefits us as someone who makes it hard for opposing defences and who is always a threat to the other team. He's a very dangerous player."
Torres himself admits he is not yet back to full fitness. "I'm still lacking a bit, it's not easy to return after an operation," he said. "I think I'm still a little away from being 100%, although I'm close."
Spain suffered a losing start to their FIFA World Cup campaign after going down to a shock 1-0 loss to Switzerland, but they rallied after that and successive victories over Honduras and Chile saw them finish top of Group H. That saw the European champions set up a last-16 showdown with Iberian rivals Portugal, which will be played in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Torres, who was substituted at the start of the second half against Chile having complained of a muscular problem at the break, said: "We're ready for whatever comes. We are where we wanted to be, living the opportunity that we dreamed of. We only need to look ahead, be optimistic, positive and show the people what we are capable of. We have confidence in ourselves.
"(However) anything can happen, so we will need to be more focused than ever. We've all seen the level that this team have and we know that we haven't reached that yet."