Analyzing Fernando Torres' Performance vs. Schalke
In Tuesday's Champions League tilt, the Blues went on the road in an all-important showdown against the group leaders and needed a result to avoid falling further. Torres made his 100th start of a turmoil-friendly Chelsea career, looking to turn a corner.
The embattled striker wasted no time making his impact felt. In the fifth minute, Branislav Ivanovic connected with a header that was flying out of bounds when the in-position Torres easily headed it home into the open goal.
While opportunity and luck were involved, Torres was parked exactly where he needed to be, and that got his side up early in an opening half that Schalke easily controlled.
Then, just five minutes into the second half, Torres streaked into the box to head home a Frank Lampard free kick, but the ball dinged off the frame of the goal, diffusing the scoring opportunity.
Schalke continued to push the envelope, and that allowed Chelsea's forwards to get out on an odd-man rush that seemingly put the icing on the cake. A string of long passes in the open field ended with Torres one-on-one with the goalkeeper, who he made look foolish with a swift move to notch his second goal.
Is the Schalke win a sign of things to come from Torres?
Torres was literally one quick decision away from Eden Hazard getting his hat trick before the midfielder chose to take it himself for the third and final goal. Torres was alongside him, ready to split apart the goalie.
It wasn't just the scoring plays, either. When Chelsea were in an attacking mode—which wasn't very often, I might add—Torres was dangerous and confident with his runs and showcased a lot of promise that we haven't seen from him in some time.
The biggest knock on Torres since his arrival at Stamford Bridge was his lethargy in offensive sets and the inability to take advantage of the striker spot, but he did so with flair and a newfound level of confidence on Tuesday.
In the 100th start of what has been a tumultuous Chelsea career by many standards—one full of controversy and mediocrity—it's fitting that one of the world's elite footballers broke out when his club needed him to.
He is criticized pretty often in football circles, and sometimes justifiably so, but Tuesday proved that Torres can still catch lightning in a bottle and become one of the most dominant attackers in world football.
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