Spain drop Torres – revealing much about Ireland’s comparative options pre Euro 2012
Fernando Torres faces a fight to make Euro 2012 after being dropped from Spain’s squad to Venezuela next week. The £50million stg Chelsea striker, who could miss today’s game against Bolton due to illness, has not scored since October, a drought of 20 games for his club.
The Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 winner (he of course scored the only goal in the Final of the former tournament) has not scored for the Spanish – who face Ireland in their second Group C game at Euro 2012 – since September 2010. Barcelona’s David Villa, Spain’s all-time top scorer, is out with a broken leg, but, Head Coach Vicente Del Bosque has still left out a fit Torres for the first time in more than five years. Valencia’s Roberto Soldado has instead been promoted to the national team ranks, with Athletico Bilbao’s Iker Muniam and Sevilla’s Alvaro Negredo also chosen. Real Madrid defender Albiol and Barcelona forward Pedro have also been left out.
The dropping of a player such as Torres, shows the strength in depth of the World and European champions and is something which Ireland could only ever dream of and can only serve to remind Ireland manager Trapattoni what he is up against this summer. Torres has scored four goals in 31 appearances for club and country this season, which is not a million miles from Kevin Doyle’s four in 29, but it would take something along the lines of an ill-considered expedition in front of a bus by the Wolves striker before the 28-year-old would be left behind this summer. Even then, one suspects, it would be rash to rule the Wexford naive out completely.
The order of their games has done little for Ireland’s prospects. Playing Spain first or, ideally, last would have been better as the World and defending European champions might just have slipped up in their first outing and could well have qualified ahead of their third. The ever defensive Italians are much more likely to need a win in game three, whilst Croatia will be looking to win what is most likely to be there only possibility of three points in game one – against Ireland.
With today’s news that centre-half stalwart; Richard Dunne will miss the rest of the club season – and thereby becoming a major doubt for the Euros; a betting man would predict a first round exit for the Boys in Green. The betting man has been proven wrong time and again by Republic of Ireland sides in the past however. It’ll take a cataclysmic effort to do the same this summer. The incentive is huge though – qualification from the Group stage would almost certainly mean facing England in the Quarter-Finals.