Spain coach Vicente del Bosque on Thursday praised striker Fernando Torres, despite the Liverpool player looking a shadow of his normal self amid a FIFA World Cup™sou goal drought.
Whereas sidekick David Villa has netted four times in as many matches, Torres is still hoping to break his tournament duck and shows signs that he is still re-adjusting following knee surgery in April. But Del Bosque is not worried and says his man will come good, as he did at UEFA EURO 2008, when he netted the winner in the final against Germany in the absence of Villa through injury.
"Fernando is our centre forward. He has put in a lot of minutes in four matches and will continue to do so and we have absolute confidence in him," Del Bosque insisted, even though he withdrew Torres and sent on Fernando Llorente of Athletic Bilbao for the final half hour in the last-16 win over Portugal.
Llorente's good showing in that half hour has persuaded some observers to feel that he deserves a starting place at Torres' expense. But Del Bosque agrees with Villa's own view that Torres can wreak havoc merely by virtue of his presence on the pitch.
"He shoulders a vast amount of work for the team, sticks to the centre-backs [of the opposing team], draws out defences and creates space for Villa and other players behind him," the former Real Madrid boss stressed. "He is going to be very useful to us going forward."
Those words suggested that Torres will be in the starting eleven to face Paraguay on Saturday at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.