Spain hoping Torres has Rossi moment

JOHANNESBURG - Spain are hoping misfiring striker Fernando Torres can emulate the heroics of Italy's Paolo Rossi at the 1982 World Cup and help the European champions to a first triumph on football's biggest stage.

Like Torres in South Africa, who returned from knee surgery days before the World Cup and has been overshadowed by four-goal strike partner David Villa, Rossi failed to find the net in the group stage at the 1982 tournament in Spain.

He then burst spectacularly into life with six goals - a hat-trick against Brazil in the second round, two in the semi-final against Poland and the opening goal in the 3-1 defeat of West Germany in the final.

"That's not a bad example you have chosen," Del Bosque said when asked about the comparison with Rossi at a news conference at Ellis Park ahead of Spain's quarter-final against Paraguay on Saturday.

"Hopefully it will pan out like that," he added.

Torres came on as a substitute in Spain's opening Group H match, a surprise 1-0 loss to Switzerland, and has been deployed from the start in a two-pronged attack with Villa in their three subsequent games.


Del Bosque replaced him with powerful forward Fernando Llorente shortly after half time in the 1-0, last-16 win over Portugal, a move that was seen as changing the game in Spain's favour and helping them break down the Portuguese defence for Villa's winner.

Cesc Fabregas, who has barely featured so far in South Africa thanks to a Spain midfield packed with gifted players like Xavi and Andres Iniesta, defended Torres at an earlier news conference on Friday.

"I think (Torres) is accustomed to this kind of situation because he has been under pressure ever since he was a little boy," the Arsenal captain said.

"I think he is very much at ease and tomorrow he'll have a chance to showcase his talents."

Fabregas said he was concentrating on staying focused and waiting for his chance.

"The important thing is to motivate yourself and believe you will make it on to the pitch.

"You have to be able to feel ready to contribute. If you are not on the pitch then OK just celebrate with your team mates and enjoy it."

The winners of Saturday's clash will play Argentina or Germany for a place in the final on July 11.

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