Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Torres: the Problem and the Solution

Much has been written, spoken, and slurred about in pubs regarding a certain Spanish striker who now wears the blue number 9. Fernando Torres, as I'm sure you know, has not scored since signing for Chelsea. And two games before that when he was wearing a Liverpool shirt.

Now, I would be lying through my teeth if I said I was not worried by this development. Obviously, I'd have preferred Torres to net a hat trick against Liverpool in his debut, kiss the badge, and then tattoo the Stamford Lion on his pretty cheek in celebration. Instead, we've had a dejected, off-form striker who has been on the outskirts of most of the games he's played in blue.

With all that said--Torres will score. I'm going to go out on a limb and say he will score today, against United, in the Champions League quarters. (NOTE THE TIME OF THIS POST, in case I'm right) El Nino has proven that he is a world class striker, and once he bags one, the whole world will shut their mouths.

But why has Torres been struggling so mightily? It's a difficult question without a simple answer. For one thing, he wasn't fit when he came to Chelsea. This, combined with a long league season immediately after a long World Cup run, means he is nowhere near 100%. In addition, Carlo has been extremely inconsistent with his formation and tactics since Torres signed, most likely to try and fit him in. Although this has allowed Torres more minutes, it would be difficult for any player in any position to adjust to such an ever-shifting squad.

The biggest obstacle for Torres, though, has been Didier Drogba.

As a Chelsea fan for many years, I have been often frustrated by Drogba's petulance. On some occasions, his talents and raw power have justified his on field maturity-- which seems even more out of place when you see his soft-spoken, intelligent interviews off the pitch. But this childishness combined with his dip in form has caused Drogba to be desperate, and in his desperation he has prevented his new teammate from settling. He won't pass to Torres, he won't work with him, he won't make the runs or put in the effort he ordinarily does. Torres is a threat to Drogba's status as a legend in Chelsea blue-- and Drogba knows it.

The solution to Torres' drought may yet be Yossi Benayoun. The little Israeli playmaker has been injured for months, but returned on the weekend and will feature tonight, I suspect. He and Torres dovetailed brilliantly at Liverpool, and that little bit of understanding is all that Torres needs to get that ball across the line. Finally

Watch for it tonight. My prediction: 1-1 tonight. United go through. But Torres scores.

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