As Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid face off in the second leg of their Champions League Quarter-Final, a certain local boy might end up having a big say in the outcome. Herea s a look at the ups and downs of his recent years, and why he might be the man to watch in the biggest derby game in Europe.
In the second millennium BC Mesopotamia, clay tablets were used to denote transactions of harvests of Barley, with details of the amount due to the bearer and the date of repayment etched into the surface of the tablet. This is considered by many to be the first form of money. The clay tablets would eventually give way to coins of precious metals, and then to banknotes, and eventually electronic banking. We take it for granted, but this evolution of money has been critical in bringing to us many marvels of the modern world, like air travel, the Allianz Arena and Christopher Nolan movies. Sadly there have been times when currency has been used for rather pointless endeavors. Such as when Chelsea spent A?50 million to bring Fernando Torres from Liverpool FC.
The Blue Days
What went wrong for Torres at Chelsea FC? Ita s hard to say. Some say it was an issue of confidence. Others will state that he needed Steven Gerrarda s supply of through balls to flourish, though that argument seems to be too much of an oversimplification. Leta s just say things didna t work out. Much like Andriy Shevchenko before him, the Spaniard went from being possibly the best striker in the world to an exorbitantly priced dud. Ita s almost as if the price tag weighed down on his shoulders, making him scuff every shot at goal.
The drop was quite extreme. Fernando Torres had scored more than 10 goals (in the respective Leagues) between 2002 and 2010; thata s 8 seasons in a row. In his 3 full seasons after leaving Liverpool, thata s 2011-14, hea s not managed to score more than 8. Even in the 2010-11 season, hea d already scored 9 by the time he moved; he only scored one more during the rest of the season.
At first fans just assumed it was the Blue shirt. Clearly it never suited his style, and was blocking his mojo. That theory fell flat on its face when he continued his woeful form in the black and red of AC Milan. There was another theory that only a return to either the club of his youth, Atletico Madrid, or the club he grew up supporting, Liverpool FC, would restore his powers. This one may just carry more merit.
The Man from Madrid
Since his return to Atletico, Torres has definitely not suddenly gone back to his free scoring ways. Hea s only managed one goal in his 14 appearances for the club, though hea s rarely played the full 90 minutes for the club. However he has found some of his groove back.
Incidentally, his biggest performance this season came in the second leg of the Copa Del Rey. He scored and put Atletico ahead twice to help put his team through on an aggregate score of 2-4. Manager Diego Simeone will be hoping hea s in that kind of form again.
There could be a lot riding on Fernando Torres. Leta s look at the facts. Fact no. 1: Real Madrid will be without both Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema in this leg. This combined with Simeonea s knack for a solid defensive setup means that there is a good chance for Atletico to keep Reala s scoring chances to a minimal. Fact no. 2: The first leg, at the Vicente Calderon, ended 0-0. So if Atletico manage to open the scoring here, Real would have to score twice to progress. Fact no. 3: While striker Mario Mandzukic may be available for this game, there are still some lingering doubts about his fitness. If the Croatian is unable to start, or unable to play the entire length of the match, Fernando Torres is the one who will have to shoulder the goal-scoring responsibilities.
All in all, this has the makings of a big game for Torres. At 31 years of age, ita s high time he restored his name to the ranks of the best finishers in the world. Helping Atletico knock Real Madrid out of the Champions League will go a long way in doing that. As the man says it himself:
a I’ve been fortunate to play the final of the Champions League and the Europa League, but with Atleti it is different. I’ve always said that my dream is to win titles with Atletico and we must keep fighting. I’ve played in games that are more important than this one, but not as special.a – Fernando Torres