BotN: Torres performance vindicates Spain decision to play with no strikers

Back of the Net's report on Spain's 1-1 draw with Italy

It finished one apiece in Gdansk as purists enjoyed the absorbing battle served up by the contrasting tactical approaches of Spain and Italy.

After learning that his opposite number Cesare Prandelli had picked a team of mostly defenders, Spanish manager Vicente Del Bosque chose to select a team with no strikers – a decision it seemed the walrussy maestro either hadn’t thought about, or had thought about much too hard.

By the final whistle, however, the move had been thoroughly vindicated, as second-half substitute Fernando Torres provided the blunt edge that Spain had hitherto been lacking.

Left out of the starting XI in favour of a front three of Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and David Silva, Torres spent most of the game slumping morosely on the bench. But with the scores still level in the 74th minute, Del Bosque called for the Chelsea man, who spent the rest of the game slumping morosely on the pitch instead.

“When picking the team, I had to make a straight choice between Fernando and no-one at all, and it was clear in my mind which option would cause Italy more problems,” Del Bosque told FourFourTwo.

“I have to admit, I was questioning myself after our seventeenth dinky through-ball trickled through to their goalie without anyone attacking it, but after seeing Fernando in action, I’m pretty damn sure I was right all along.”

Moments after coming on, Torres missed a one-on-one chance to score, despite a disdainful Gianluigi Buffon not bothering to use his hands to stop him. Minutes later, with the opportunity to either shoot or to play in Xavi, Torres instead galumphed the ball widdershins and the danger was cleared.

The girly-haired galoot elbowed out his frustrations on Daniele De Rossi’s face, which had clearly been bothering him, but was less accurate moments later with an ill-judged lob. His evening was rounded off by an attempted through-ball to Iniesta, that would have been perfect if only De Rossi had had no legs.

Del Bosque confirmed his intention to continue packing the midfield, at the expense of Torres, in his side’s remaining games. “No strikers is just the start,” he promised. “Who needs defenders when you’ve got 10 midfielders?”

“Hang on, we’re playing Ireland next, aren’t we? Eleven midfielders should be fine.”

Editor's note: All quotes are fictionalised. But you knew that, because you're not stupid.

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