FERNANDO TORRES believes that this Spain team will be talked about for years to come if they beat Germany tonight – the only doubt is whether the Liverpool striker will start the match.
Torres has been in the starting XI for all of Spain’s games bar the opener against Switzerland where the European champions were shocked to be defeated 1-0.
Since then the 26-year-old, who arrived in South Africa short of fitness following a knee operation in April, has been chosen to start by coach Vicente Del Bosque but has yet to score or even look close to living up to his reputation.
The Torres question has dominated Spanish thoughts in the build-up to tonight’s semi-final in Durban, with many keen for Cesc Fabregas to start after La Roja played with much more conviction once the Arsenal midfielder replaced Torres in the quarter-final against Paraguay.
Fabregas picked up a leg injury in training on Monday however and though the Spanish federation say it is not serious, it may just persuade del Bosque to keep faith with Torres, whose goal against Germany in the Euro 2008 final gave Spain their greatest success so far in football.
Torres said: “No player is assured of a place in the starting XI. A player has to give 100% in his fight for a place. But if he isn’t given the nod, he has to cheer the side from the sidelines.
“If I score and it takes us to the final it would be unbelievable. I hope history can be repeated but above all, the team wins.
“We have done well in our last games against them but this German team is much better than the previous sides we have faced.
“They have proved to be one of the favourites in this tournament.”
Spain have never reached even the semi-finals of the World Cup, though they did make a final group of four in 1950 which eventually determined the winner. Torres insisted it was important the team did not believe their job is already done.
He added: “I don’t settle for being in the semi-finals, I want more. This is the first time our nation has achieved this but we are aware we may never get this chance again. We have the right to dream and to play a wonderful game against Germany.
“We want to make sure people will still be talking about this Spain team in two years’ time or even longer.”
Torres has also had to endure continued speculation over his future at Liverpool, and gave a diplomatic answer when queried on the subject. He wants to speak to new manager Roy Hodgson, and view how the sale of the club is developing before making a decision.
“Once the World Cup is over I will speak to Liverpool and they will explain to me the real situation of the club right now and for the future,” said Torres. “I will also speak to the new coach. There’s time to do that. Right now I want to finish the World Cup and go on holiday.”
Meanwhile Bastian Schweinsteiger insists Spain are the favourites for tonight’s encounter.
Apart from a group stage blip against Serbia, Joachim Low’s team have steamrollered every team that crossed their path, including England and Argentina. The Spaniards have been far more subdued.
But Schweinsteiger insists the side that beat them in the Euro 2008 final two years ago are still “the better team on paper”.
“Losing a final always causes frustration and disappointment but Spain were definitely the better team,” the Bayern midfielder said.
“On paper Spain are still the better team but I think we have shown in our last two games that we can beat teams that appear better on paper.
“For me, Spain are the best team in the world. It will be tough just like it was against England and Argentina but I’ve a lot of faith in this team because we’ve seen what we can do if we all pull together.”
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