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Torres World Cup debate rages on in Spain

The debate about whether Fernando Torres should be in Spain's World Cup football starting lineup in the semi-final against Germany continued apace.

sports Updated: Jul 05, 2010 18:43 IST

The debate about whether Fernando Torres should be in Spain's World Cup football starting lineup in the semi-final against Germany continued apace on Monday.

The Liverpool striker has started all of Spain's matches in South Africa - except in the debut defeat against Switzerland, when he came on after an hour - but has looked slow and sluggish, without fitness, rhythm or confidence.

The struggling 26-year-old Torres has not yet scored in the World Cup and has never come close to finding the net.

In the Round of 16 clash against Portugal, Torres was replaced by Fernando Llorente after an hour. The Spanish attack improved without Torres - and David Villa scored the winning goal.

Against Paraguay in the quarter-finals, Torres again got the starting nod from coach Vicente del Bosque but again looked out of sorts. He was replaced after another fruitless hour by Cesc Fabregas - and Villa's winning goal soon came.

Now the question is whether Torres should start in Wednesday's semi-final against Germany.

An online poll taken by Madrid sports daily Marca showed Monday that 75.2 per cent of readers think he should not.

Marca suggested that Del Bosque should start with either David Silva - who has not played since the Switzerland fiasco - or Fabregas.

A similar poll taken by AS showed that 67 per cent of readers think Torres should not start against Germany.

AS held a massive debate about Torres Monday. One columnist, Manolo Lama, argues that it is "a lack of respect" to question Torres' first-choice status, and that the Germans are "afraid of him" because of his winning goal against them in the Euro 2008 final.

Lama also claimed that Torres "opens up important spaces for Villa, who takes advantage of all his hard work".

Another AS columnist, Manu Carreno, said that Torres should be given "a psychologial and physical rest" on Wednesday, and be "saved for the final," with Llorente taking his place.

Torres has never been a unanimous popular choice for Spain, unlike goal-scoring hero Villa, mainly because his international scoring record is much poorer than Villa's.

Torres has played 78 times for La Roja, scoring only 24 goals.

He was doubtful to go to South Africa after an injury-ruined season for Liverpool which saw operations to remove damaged carliage in his right knee in January and April.

He convinced Del Bosque of his fitness by coming off the bench and scoring a goal in the pre-World Cup friendly thrashing of Poland.

Del Bosque has been faithful to Torres - too faithful according to the media. On Sunday, however, he hinted that his faith might be wearing thin by saying that "Torres will continue to give us his work and personality...but he is not an automatic starter."

First Published: Jul 05, 2010 17:17 IST