Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Gianluigi Buffon and Fernando Torres will meet again tonight, four years after this meeting at Euro 2008. Clive Mason / Getty Images
Gianluigi Buffon and Fernando Torres will meet again tonight, four years after this meeting at Euro 2008. Clive Mason / Getty Images

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres relishes his Italian job

The forward can draw inspiration ahead of Chelsea's Champions League clash with Juventus from his performances against Italian opposition.

One of the most vivid and evocative football photographs of the last few years was taken at Euro 2008. It captures a split second in the quarter-final between Spain and Italy, not a moment with the ball in play but a click of the shutters just after a moment of high tension.

Italy's goalkeeper Gigi Buffon has just made a save from Spain's Fernando Torres. The picture has Buffon, relieved at his decisive action, clasping his gloved hands around the face of Torres, their foreheads touching, two professionals acknowledging the emotional intensity of their duel and some mutual respect.

Torres is smiling. That in itself dates the photograph. He was at a career peak in the summer 2008, a successful first Premier League season with Liverpool under his belt, a key role in delivering Spain's triumph in those European championships - he would score the winner in the 1-0 victory against Germany in the final - establishing his legend in his native country.

In the last two years, photographers have found it harder to snap ecstatic grins on the face of the former prodigy. Since January 2011 Torres has carried the label of the most expensive centre-forward in English football history like a knapsack full of bricks.

He was frowning last Saturday, as he marched off the pitch, substituted, after a frustrating afternoon in Chelsea's 0-0 draw at QPR.

Although the 50 million (Dh298m) Torres has scored twice in four matches in the Premier League this term, a far better rate than his six goals in 32 games in 2011/12, he is still under scrutiny, with Chelsea keenly seeking signs that he might one day return, consistently, to his dazzling best.

Italian opposition, in the form of Buffon's Juventus in the Champions League, might just stimulate his finest instincts. Scroll through Torres's career highlights, and they often show him outwitting Italian defences, be it for Liverpool against Inter Milan, five seasons ago in Europe - "with a succession of long balls played over the back of the defence, I beat Marco Materazzi for pace and both times he got yellow cards," he recalls in his autobiography - or for Spain against the Azzurri.

Torres scored and set up a goal, even in his brief time on the field as a late substitute in Spain's 4-0 victory over Italy in the final of Euro 2012 two and half months ago. A pair of the defenders he outfoxed, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli, are Juve men.

Their club colleague, Giorgio Chiellini, started that final. Had Torres watched Bonucci, Barzagli and Chiellini struggle to contain strikers chasing balls over the top of them during Juve's match at Genoa on Sunday, he ought to have smiled.

If Torres finds the bursts of pace that used to characterise his football, he will trouble the Italian champions.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Real Madrid players Angel Di Maria, left, Pepe, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric and Marcelo attend a training session at Real Madrid’s Valdebebas training grounds outside Madrid on April 22, 2014. Real Madrid will play Bayern Munich in a Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg match in Madrid on Wednesday. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

In pictures: Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale train with Real Madrid

A well-rested Real Madrid side trains on Tuesday ahead of their Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg match against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night. Stadnouts Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are both expected to be in action at the Bernabeu.

 Chelsea players argue with Atletico Madrid during their scoreless draw in the Champions League semi-final first leg match at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid, Spain on Tuesday. Gerard Julien / AFP / April 22, 2014

In pictures: Chelsea lock horns with Atletico in scoreless Champions League draw

Chelsea held Atletico Madrid scoreless at home on Tuesday as the two will head to Stamford Bridge for a winner-take-all second leg.

 Walter Zenga wants his Al Jazira side to continue building on the recent positive results they have had in Asian Champions League, even though they have already qualified for the knockout stage. Karim Jaafar / AFP

Walter Zenga aims for Al Jazira to carry momentum in Asian Champions League

The Al Jazira coach Walter Zenga is set to field his strongest line-up as the UAE club seek to topple Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab as leaders of Group A.

 Sourav Ganguly, left, and Sanjiv Goenka, vice-chairman of RPG Enterprises, pose with footballs during a press conference to announce their ownership of the Kolkata franchise in the upcoming Indian Super League on April 14, 2014. Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP

Indian Super League high on ambition, short-seeming on the football

While a number of high-profile figures are throwing in with the Indian Super League hoping to make a splash in world football, many local voices are arguing the foundation for the tournament is shaky.

 Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, left, and Gareth Bale share a laugh during training on Tuesday. Both players will be fit for Wednesday night’s Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg against Bayern Munich at the Bernabeu. Chema Moya / EPA

Rested Real Madrid side hope to catch Bayern Munich on a slide

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will be fit for Real Madrid in Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg match while the holders are trying to recover from a Bundesliga slump.

 Toni Kroos of Bayern Munich will lead his team against Real Madrid in a Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg match on Wednesday night. Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images

Toni Kroos is a wanted man at Bayern Munich

Kroos’s talks with Bayern over renewing a contract have stalled while Manchester United, and Wednesday night’s opponents, Real Madrid, are among those keen to offer him an alternative place of work, writes Ian Hawkey.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National