Category: Fernando Torres

Welcome to Chelsea! Fernando Torres Speaks to the Press

Spanish football star Fernando Torres gave his first official press conference as a Chelsea Blue Friday at the Cobham facilities.

The former Liverpool Torres signed with Chelsea on Monday in a deal that takes him up to 2016.

Torres joins an already loaded line-up for Chelsea that includes Didier Drigba, John Terry, Frank Lampard and goalie Petr Cech.

“I felt from last summer that I need to do a step forward in my career and for my ambition as a footballer,” the 26-year-old said. “I am joining a team that is at the top level, there is not another level after Chelsea.”

Torres might make his Chelsea debut Sunday against his old Liverpool team.

Spain v Switzerland Preview – 2010 World Cup

Venue: Spain v Switzerland in Durban – World Cup Group H Match
Date Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Match Time: 4pm (local)
Spain v Switzerland Odds: Spain win 2/7; draw 7/2; Switzerland win 7/1.
Key players – Spain: Cesc Fabregas, Fernando Torres, David Villa, Xavi. Switzerland: Alexander Frei, Phillipe Senderos, Valon Behrami.
Tickets: TBA
Livestream: Coming Soon

Frank Finnegan: Spain-Switzerland sets up as the classic “Unstoppable Force meets Immovable Object” match, with Spain’s high-powered, creative attack up against Switzerland’s organized, stout defense. The Swiss famously were ousted from the 2006 World Cup without having surrendered a single goal. However, they did not face a squad nearly as dangerous as this edition of La Furia Roja. The names and scoring options read like an all-star team: Villa, Torres, Xavi, Iniesta, Fabregas, Pedro, Silva. The Swiss will do everything they can, hoping for a 0-0, and will hold off the Spanish for a while, but in the end, Spain is too much and wins 3-0.

Greg Neville: The Spanish Armada should not have any problems of disposing Switzerland or any of their Group H opponents for that matter. The Swiss won’t trouble the Spaniards goal and their defence, although strong, will be constantly peppered by the likes of Villa, Torres and Fabregas. Spain, remarkably, has never reached a World Cup semi-final but this deep and talented squad has the ability to go all the way with a few routs in the process. Spain wins 4-0.

Alex Michaels: I have to agree with my colleagues Greg Neville and Frank Finnegan on this one. I can’t see how the Swiss can stop the pre-tournament favourites in their opener. My worry for the Spaniards is that they will stroll too easily in the Group stages and suffer early in the second round, likely against the Portuguese. As for this match, the Swiss will be dogged in their resistance, but will ultimately be conquered. A comfortable 3-0 win for Spain, possibly more.

Other June 16 matches:
World Cup Group H match: Honduras v Chile in Nelspruit at 1.30pm.
Honduras v Chile Odds: Honduras win 4/1; draw 5/2; Chile win 4/7.
World Cup Group A match: South Africa v Uruguay in Pretoria at 8.30pm.
South Africa v Uruguay Odds: South African win 7/4; draw 11/5; Uruguay win 5/4.

Champions League Musings

Is Lionel Messi the best player in the world, already one of the best of all time? Of course. He’s won pretty much everything in club football at the tender age of 22, and I expect him to transfer his club form to the national team this summer in South Africa. His turn of pace and balance are scary. [ad#as2]

But being a realist, Arsenal gave Messi far too much space in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Tuesday, a 4-1 rout in favour of the defending champs. This after the Gunners gave up two poor goals in the first leg in London.

Mikael Silvestre got the nod over Sol Campbell in the middle of defense and looked lost alongside Thomas Vermaelen. If he clears the ball, as he should have, just prior to Messi’s opener, it might have been a different outcome. It certainly would have been different had Abou Diaby, who keeps his head down a little too much, passed to Theo Walcott instead of Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal’s poorest player of the evening) after Arsenal took a 1-0 lead. Walcott would have been in all alone, although he certainly wouldn’t have been a banker to score.

Cue the Messi brilliance.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (finally) has said he’ll splash the cash this summer. He should start between the sticks and see if he can lure Hugo Lloris or Gianluigi Buffon away from Lyon or Juventus, respectively. No more Manuel Almunia. He’s gotta go. A central defender or two, and at least one world-class striker (apart from Marouane Chamakh) needs to be brought in. Wenger continues to be linked with Juventus’ Felipe Melo, surprising considering there’s no need for a holding midfielder thanks to Alex Song’s phenomenal improvement this season.

Back to the Champions League. Messi and company won’t be allowed to roam free in the semifinals against the Special One’s Inter Milan. Midfield and defense won’t be separated by miles, and expect Messi to get some special treatment (and kicks) when on the ball.

Too bad there’s no Barcelona-Manchester United repeat. United fell to Bayern Munich on away goals, which got Fergie huffing and puffing about German antics. He was ticked Munich players helped to get Rafael sent off Wednesday and targeted Wayne Rooney’s ailing ankle.

What a farce. United, or at least before the emergence of Chelsea, has long been the leader at haranguing the ref (hello Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville and the whiny Darren Fletcher). United would have done exactly the same thing. Arsenal fans remember that United kicked Wenger’s team off the park at Old Trafford to end the Gunners’ unbeaten league run a few years ago (and Rooney dived to win a penalty).

Bayern-Lyon should be intriguing. Franck Ribery was a disappointment for Bayern against United, but fellow winger Arjen Robben wasn’t. He can’t stop scoring brilliant goals. Lyon was finally due to exceed the quarterfinals and got lucky in drawing Bordeaux. In Lisandro Lopez, Lyon found a suitable (better?) replacement for Karim Benzema. (Pause to consider Argentina’s options up front – Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Diego Milito, Lopez…all in form.) It’s not a stretch to say Lloris could be the best keeper in the world at the minute.

Let’s go with a Barcelona-Lyon final.

And is it just me, or has the Europa League become more exciting this year? Maybe it’s the added coverage. Liverpool, Fulham, Hamburg and Atletico Madrid advanced to the semis Thursday, the latter luckily. If you’re looking for one of the worst refereeing mistakes of all time, check out the ref’s no call when Valencia’s Nikola Zigic was wrestled to the ground in the Atletico box in the dying minutes. He was pulled with so much force his shirt was torn.

The game ended scoreless, and Atletico advanced on away goals.

Fernando Torres heads back to Atletico in the last four, while Hamburg meets Fulham. The Cottagers seem to be the team of destiny, knocking out the defending champions (Shakhtar Donetsk), Juventus, and the reigning German champions (Wolfsburg).

Liverpool in Deep Trouble

Mark down Monday as a pivotal night in the race for fourth, the lucrative final Champions League spot, in the Premier League. It was probably the day Liverpool blew its chance. [ad#as2]

A disorganized and utterly poor Liverpool lost to slumping Wigan 1-0 away, and long-term, it may cost Spanish boss Rafael Benitez his job. For reasons only he knows, Benitez refused to start expensive summer signing Alberto Aquilani yet again. The Italian came on late in the second half and injected a little life into the Reds, along with the fit-again Glen Johnson.

Dirk Kuyt, perhaps the hardest working player in the Premier League, made a mistake that led to the only goal in the first half, but in truth, inspirational captain Steven Gerrard was out of sorts, normally reliable striker Fernando Torres squandered several chances, and midfielder Lucas Leiva was his usual self. As in, he didn’t do much. Gerrard could also be in hot water after appearing to tell referee Andre Marriner to stick it.

Former Wigan manager Paul Jewell rightly ripped into Liverpool.

“There are ways to lose, and last night was no way to lose,” Jewell told the Daily Mail. “Liverpool can’t go to Wigan and get outplayed like that. As a team Liverpool are a million miles from being as good as the club.”

Here’s the scenario for Benitez and his troops. They lie sixth with 48 points, one behind Tottenham, currently in fourth, and Manchester City. The problem for Liverpool fans is Tottenham has one game in hand and City two. Further, Aston Villa, seventh with 45 points, has played three fewer games than Liverpool.

“We have to show more character if we want to finish in the top four,” Benitez, who has bought a huge number of flops in his time, told reporters.

After a breather, seemingly, against Portsmouth at home next Monday, Liverpool travels to Manchester United. City’s next six fixtures, meanwhile, are all winnable. Similarly, Tottenham could conceivably win its next four league games, against Blackburn, Stoke, Portsmouth and Sunderland.

Yes, barring a minor miracle, Liverpool will be playing in the Europa League for the second straight year.


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