Torres dilemma as Spain start campaign

MADRID - Coach Vicente del Bosque will have more concerns over striker Fernando Torres than the opposition when Spain visit tiny Liechtenstein on Friday for their first competitive game since winning the World Cup.

The world and European champions kick off their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign at the compact Rheinpark stadium in Vaduz, where the 6,127 tickets sold out several weeks ago, facing a team ranked 141st in the world.

While Spain must be looking forward to a commanding win in their opening qualifier, Del Bosque faces a dilemma in whether to give Torres a chance to continue playing his way back into form and fitness or respect the wishes of his club, Liverpool.

Torres had knee surgery before the World Cup and struggled throughout the tournament and while he has looked more lively at the start of this season -- and scored his first goal in 10 games at the weekend - Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is concerned he is still several games away from full fitness.

According to media reports Hodgson wants Spain to rest Torres for the Liechtenstein game and the friendly in Argentina four days later but Del Bosque appeared keen to field the striker when he announced the squad last week.

"The reports are good on Torres, he has played a part in their last two games and we don't have any news to say he isn't well," he said.

Liechtenstein have scored only three goals in the last two years, meaning that Spain unlikely to feel the absence of defender Carles Puyol, who has pulled out of the match with a calf muscle problem.

Although Liechtenstein's entire population of around 35,000 would not even half fill Soccer City, where Spain beat Netherlands 1-0 to win the World Cup, the visitors are taking nothing for granted.

"It would be an error to think everything is going to be much easier now we are world champions," defender Sergio Ramos told reporters.

"We have to have our ideas clearer than ever and we start from zero again because football has no memory."

Del Bosque will probably put Carlos Marchena in alongside Gerard Pique in the centre of defence, while Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente could be preferred to Torres up front.

Liechtenstein's last win was in October 2007 when they beat Iceland 3-0 in a Euro 2008 qualifier, but coach Hans-Peter Zaugg is not discouraged.

"We must believe in ourselves and try to keep the ball," he told the daily newspaper Liechtensteiner Vaterland. "We have the players who can do it."

"It's great for us - we have nothing to lose. Nobody expects we can beat Spain but it's important that we don't start the match believing we don't have a chance."

Probable teams

Liechtenstein: Peter Jehle; Martin Rechsteiner, Michael Stocklasa, Yves Oehri, Franz Burgmeier; Michele Polverino, Raphael Rohrer, Ronny Buechel, Sandro Wieser; David Hasler, Mario Frick.

Spain: Iker Casillas; Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Carlos Marchena, Joan Capdevila; Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta; David Villa, Fernando Llorente.

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