On Friday, Spain striker Fernando Torres took time from training with the national team ahead of their friendly match against Haiti to talk about his resurgent form, the arrival of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and the Confederations Cup.
The 29 year old was recently renamed to Vicente del Bosque’s side after being omitted from the last two call-ups, a tribute to his improved form at Chelsea this season. Torres noted that his elevated play was due in part to the comfort he felt playing under interim Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez, who the striker has remained close with since their days at Liverpool.
Of equal importance to the comfort he felt under Benitez is his own personal preparation. “The last few months I’ve been playing better,” Torres admitted. “But if I’ve improved it’s because I prepare myself mentally and physically before every game, and not for any other reason.”
That preparation paid big dividends for the striker, who found the net seven times in his last 16 matches for Chelsea. Whether that strike-rate has impressed incoming Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, however, Torres has no idea. But the player nevertheless admitted that Mourinho’s arrival was “great news for the club” and that everyone – the club, the players and the fans – were all happy and looking forward to working with him.
Widespread conjecture in the press has been that Torres may not be in a Chelsea strip come August as Mourinho has interest in bringing new blood to West London. But Torres is nevertheless adamant that his future is at Stamford Bridge. “Every summer the talk, the speculation, the rumors, but I said the first day I signed my contract [for Chelsea] that I signed for five years and a half, so that’s how long I’ll be here.”
For now, though, Torres just wants to focus on the Confederations Cup in Brazil. The warm-up tournament for next year’s World Cup is a contest that Spain has never won and was bounced from in 2009 after a 2-0 loss to the U.S.. “Because of that loss we know how important this competition is, so our approach will be just like it is for the World Cup,” Torres explained.
In fact, it was that semi-final loss to the Americans that Torres claims is motivation for Spain in this summer’s tournament. Torres recalled the strong performances of Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Oguchi Onyewu and how his side had “over 40 shots on goal” (it was only 11) but simply could not convert. “We don’t want the same feelings of 2009 when we went home early,” El Nino said.
It was a loss that left Torres and Spain with no delusions of grandeur. “It’s not a surprise that the U.S. is winning games against the best teams in the world,” he said. “In a few years we’ll see more and more U.S. players playing in Europe and doing well for their country.”
Torres and Spain take on Haiti tomorrow and the Republic of Ireland on June 11th before heading to Brazil to kick-off the Confederations Cup against Uruguay on June 16th.