The former Chelsea striker has the chance to make himself a hometown hero again, writes Tim Stannard...
If LLL were Fernando Torres – and for a couple of minutes in 2005, that was all the blog wanted to be (well, that and a spaceman) – then it would spend most of the day wandering about the Vicente Calderón trying to guess what on earth had happened to the club in the intervening period since leaving in 2006 and returning some nine years later. It is a period that has seen the club transformed from comedy-staple basket case to being actually quite brilliant.
The main theory LLL would be working on if it was in the forward’s boots is an alternate reality slip brought about by spending too much time with José Mourinho’s.
Should that strong possibility prove to be a non-starter, then the entire club being taken over by body snatchers from outer space, led by parasitic alien life form, Diego Simeone.
Something supernatural or other worldly can be the only explanation for the uncanny sense of organisation, professionalism and planning that seems to be driving the club these days, along with the enormous changes in players like Juanfran and Arda Turan.
Torres will no doubt find a huge batch of pods hidden away near the kit room. If the striker suddenly goes on a prolific scoring spree, then points at his team-mates making a scary screechy sound, then we will know that the Spaniard has been taken too.
The last time Nando played for Atlético in Europe was back in the 2004 Intertoto Cup. “We lost our direction back then,” he admitted to Marca, on mucking about in the now defunct competition.
Should the Spaniard step onto the pitch against Bayer Leverkusen, it will be a Champions League debut for Torres (despite winning the trophy with Chelsea).
It shows just how blooming far this club has progressed that the possibility of getting through to a second successive final is more than doable. “My team-mates want to avenge what happened in Lisbon and there’s only one way,” said Torres, “which is getting there again.”
The late goal by Sergio Ramos in Lisbon should have been an unbearable weight on the shoulders of some of the players – it is certainly still the source of nightmares for fans – but the memory does seem to be motivating the Rojiblancos to do the job properly this time around.
While there are no easy games in the Champions League and all that, the clash against the Bundesliga outfit is a fairly kind draw for Atlético. Another soft draw against a very beatable minnow like Real Madrid could see Atleti propelled into the semis before you can say 'bottlers in the Bernabéu'.
Then again, if Atlético really want proper vengeance, then a rematch against Real Madrid would be the ideal final. And a winning goal from a former club captain, Champions League and World Cup-winner, but a player only just starting his Big Cup journey with his hometown club? That really would be out of this world.