Fernando José Torres Sanz. At the age of 28, Fernando Torres has a Champions League medal, to European Championship winner’s medals and a World Cup winner’s medal. Also to his name, he has two goals in the European Championship Final (2008 and 2012). However, following his £50 million transfer from Liverpool to Chelsea, many believed his career was waning. With a number of injuries plaguing his abilities from 2009 through the World Cup, the verdict seemed justified. With just seven goals in 46 games for Chelsea, many believed the Torres who scared the best defenders out of their boots was long-gone.
And then came Euro 2012. After finding himself a mere squad member in South Africa and nearly being ousted of the squad by the surging Álvaro Negredo, Roberto Soldado and Fernando Llorente, Torres found himself no longer the automatic bid to lead the Spanish line. Vicente del Bosques modified 4-6-0 formation with a “false nine” seemed to be working fine against Italy, where Torres was named to the bench. Against Ireland, Torres was handed a rare (recently, anyways) start, and did not disappoint, scoring two goals in a 4-0 rout. The rest of the tournament found a mixed bag of the Torres of old and the Torres of recent times, with Chelsea No. 9 finding himself subbed or used from the bench more often than not. In the final, Torres came on as a substitute, and it may have been the best form the world has seen Torres in since his days at Anfield. Torres scored Spain’s third goal against Italy, and assisted Juan Mata’s first ever goal for Spain, their fourth. Torres became the first player to ever score in two European Championship Finals, and against the odds secured him the Golden Boot with three goals and one assist, having played fewer minutes than Germany’s Mario Gomez. With Spain becoming the only team to ever win three major tournaments in a row and arguably the greatest sporting club of all time, what does this mean for Torres? Or better yet, what does it mean for Chelsea?
What we saw from Torres at Euro 2012 was flashes of brilliance. Against Ireland, he was brilliant. Against Croatia, he was not. Much like his form at Chelsea, the Torres of old and Torres of recent times was showing up. However, his three goals and then assist to Chelsea team-mate Mata can give Chelsea fans hope. With Roberto Di Matteo signing a two-year deal as manager and the club making two brilliant signings in Marko Marin and Eden Hazard, one can only see Torres as the spear-head of a three pronged attack. With Mata and Hazard either side of the Spaniard, the goals will come. Torres movement off the ball in the Final was brilliant as well. At times, Torres seemed to sulk and mope around the front line for both Chelsea and Spain, but his fitness looks to be returning in full, and that is a scary thing for the Premier League. While Chelsea finished a lowly fifth, they will have chance to defend their Champions League crown through their automatic qualification. With Didier Drogba clearing the road for Torres, the time to shine for El Niño is now. Chelsea have made the signings to compliment his style of play, and the Premier League may once again fear the Spaniard as they did during his time at Anfield. With David Villa completing his rehab for Barcelona and Spain, Torres may have added competition for the starting line-up in del Bosque’s side. One thing is for certain, though, if Torres form continues to rise again for both club and country, the Premier League may see the Spaniard reign supreme, and Brazil 2014 may see a kid crowned king.