After a poor performance in Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa the word is out that Fernando Torres, who’s 15/4 to score the first goal in his side’s Champions League last-16 second-leg clash with Galatasaray, will be dropped in favour of Samuel Eto’o, who’s 7/2 to notch first.
While it is true that the man formerly known as ‘El Nino’ has flattered to deceive domestically during Jose Mourinho’s first season back at Stamford Bridge, the Portuguese gaffer would be mad to drop him for Gala’s visit to west London and here’s why:
Torres has struck three times in three Champions League starts this season.
The former Atletico Madrid youth has added a veneer of respectability to his seasonal Premier League goal tally recently, with three strikes in his last ten top-flight appearances having notched just once in his first 11 matches in the division this term.
However, Torres has been much better in continental competition, bagging a brace – which included the opener – in Chelsea’s 2-0 win at Schalke and breaking the deadlock in the 1-1 first-leg draw with Gala.
The 29-year-old ruled the Europa League knock-out stages last term, scoring six goals in five appearances including the opener in the final.
Torres’ contribution to the Blues’ ultimately successful Europa League campaign last term was startling, with the 6ft 1in striker rattling the onion bag against Steaua Bucharest at Stamford Bridge, in both matches against Rubin Kazan and in the semi-final second-leg against Basel.
The striker’s 2013 odyssey in the continent’s consolation competition began in mid-March and ended with the first goal in the final against Benfica, which Chelsea eventually won 2-1 thanks to a late Branislav Ivanovic effort.
Fuenlabrada’s finest has years of form at European level for both the Blues and former employers Liverpool.
Those of us who watched Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Barcelona in the second leg of their 2011/12 Champions League semi-final clash will struggle to forget the noise commentator Gary Neville made following the 106-cap Spain star’s 90th-minute strike.
Torres also bagged two Europa League braces after spring’s first cuckoo in his last season at Liverpool and the forward’s career record in continental competition stands at a healthy 30 goals in 70 appearances.