Potchefstroom: Spain coach Vicente del Bosque will stick by Fernando Torres for the team’s quarterfinal match against Paraguay despite the striker’s poor World Cup form so far.
Torres has struggled to establish himself in South Africa since returning from knee surgery in April and Fernando Llorente impressed after replacing the Liverpool striker in the 1-0 win over Portugal.
But Del Bosque said he will not be swayed for the match at Ellis Park with Spain on the cusp of reaching the semifinals for the first time.
“Our striker right now is Fernando (Torres),” Del Bosque said. “He’s played four games, a lot of minutes and will play more. We’ve got full confidence in him while we also know that Fernando Llorente brings a lot of qualities too.”
Striker David Villa, who shares the tournament scoring lead with four goals, said it’s just a matter of time before Torres scores.
“We all know his moment will come,” Villa said. “Hopefully it’s Saturday against Paraguay.”
Llorente, whose entrance helped Spain crack Portugal’s stubborn defense, said his team’s deep bench means it has options for any situation.
“There are some incredible players in this team and those on the bench also deserve to play which makes it complicated,” Llorente said on Thursday. “Everyone deserves it but the coach decides and we just have to be ready when he calls on us.”
Del Bosque said Llorente could play against Paraguay, which is expected to be have defensive setup against the European champions.
“Both need to be full of confidence, both need to know they can be helpful,” Del Bosque said of his strikers.
One player who doesn’t need a confidence boost is Villa, who has scored all but one of Spain’s five goals in South Africa. Andres Iniesta is the only other Spanish player to score in the competition so far.
“I’m only thinking about being in perfect shape for Saturday,” Villa added. “It’s going to be a complicated match but we’re motivated and confident we’ll win.”
Llorente believes the rest of Spain’s talented team means it won’t have to depend on the Barcelona-bound striker to stay alive.
“Villa’s been very, very important for us, scoring practically all of our goals,” the Athletic Bilbao striker said. “But there are a lot of players capable of scoring and someone else will, too.”
Del Bosque commended Villa’s work on both ends of the field.
“Great for the number of goals, of course. But he also did an excellent job in defense (against Portugal),” the former Real Madrid coach said.