Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque announced his 21-man squad with the Blues’ forward a glaring omission.
The Spaniard’s form since his arrival at Stamford Bridge in 2011 has left a lot to be desired and now, with the arrival of Demba Ba in the January transfer window, the 28-year-old has fallen down the pecking order at club and international level.
Torres has made 101 appearances for his country since his debut in 2003, helping his national side win both the World Cup and European Championships. However, since his £50 million move from Liverpool to European champions Chelsea, his form, fitness and confidence have taken a nosedive. In his first two seasons with the Blues he managed just 12 goals in 67 appearances.
This season, so far, he has improved marginally – he has already netted 15 goals in all competitions. However, he still has yet to recapture the scintillating form he boasted at Atletico Madrid and in his first season with the Reds. To compound his confidence and form issues, Spain have recently adopted a formation that doesn’t rely on a traditional striker or a number 9.
In the European Championships of last summer, due to the wealth of options they have in midfield, Spain preferred against certain opposition to play Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas as a ‘false 9’, operating more as a trequartista or ‘number 10’.
Now, with the arrival of Demba Ba from Newcastle, Torres is under even more pressure to produce results and for a striker he will always be assessed on his goal tally. Demba Ba has scored 3 goals already in just 5 starts and 4 substitute appearances – a far superior goals to games ratio than his Spanish teammate.
To add insult to injury, his young Blues teammate, 23-year-old right-back Cesar Azpilicueta has been called up by Del Bosque, along with attacking midfield playmaker Juan Mata. Even wantaway Barca striker David Villa has been named and he’s made half the appearances Torres has this season, after returning from almost a year on the sidelines through injury.
Another notable omission from Del Bosque’s squad is Swansea’s Michu who has been a revelation for the Swans this term scoring 16 goals in 39 appearances in his debut Premier League season.
One has to wonder, and serious question, whether Fernando Torres’ place and status in the Spain setup is in real jeopardy. He seems to be caught in a vicious cycle – if he’s off form, he doesn’t play and if he doesn’t play, he can’t better his form.
He probably only has one more tournament left in his international career. Unless he gets a transfer in the summer, he could very well be left at home for World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
image: © nbabaian