Fernando Torres and Juan Mata Disappoint Despite Spain Win over Bolivia

Rik SharmaFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2014

Torres scored a penalty but otherwise was not good enough.
Torres scored a penalty but otherwise was not good enough.Miguel Angel Morenatti/Associated Press

Spain earned a 2-0 win over Bolivia, but this was not a good night for Fernando Torres or Juan Mata.

That sounds like an odd claim to make, given that Torres scored the first goal of the game, but it was his comical failed lob minutes afterward that was a more accurate depiction of his performance.

Mata, meanwhile, was hooked at half-time and seems unlikely to get much game time in Brazil, if he even goes.

The Premier League pair have endured tough seasons, and neither impressed in this friendly at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan on Friday night.

Vicente del Bosque picked an experimental side, giving several players a chance to impress before deciding whether to retain or omit them from his 23-man World Cup squad on Saturday.

Torres clipped the ball home from 12 yards out.
Torres clipped the ball home from 12 yards out.David Ramos/Getty Images

Of the 11 who started the game, it's hard to see Pepe Reina, Alberto Moreno, Mata, Torres, Ander Iturraspe or even Bayern's Javi Martinez starting Spain's first group game against the Netherlands.

A few of them will fail to make it to the tournament itself anyhow.

With the likes of Iker Casillas, Jordi Alba, Sergio Ramos, David Silva and more waiting in the wings, don't expect their line-up for the first group game to be too similar to this.

Mata came close a few minutes before half-time, with a free-kick which whipped across the roof of Bolivia's net.

He had another opportunity from a similar dead-ball situation just before the break, but this one was fired low and into the defensive wall.

That was the end of Mata's night, substituted at half-time for Barcelona star Andres Iniesta.

Almost as if to hammer the final nail into Mata's coffin, Iniesta scored an excellent goal toward the end of the game, picking his spot from 25 yards out and caressing the ball home.

Mata may not even make the squad for Brazil.
Mata may not even make the squad for Brazil.David Ramos/Getty Images

Manchester United's attacking midfielder had worked extremely hard, coming in from the right for Spain, but failed to impress the coach.

His performance was similar to those we saw at the early part of last season, under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea.

Being made to work hard, but not able to offer the true class and quality we know he possesses.

After an hour, Torres joined him on the bench, with Cesc Fabregas taking the Chelsea man's place at the peak of the Spain team.

Torres had, too, been a willing runner. But that is not enough for a team that wants to win the World Cup.

Fabregas isn't the man to replace Torres as Spain's striker for any great period of time, and Del Bosque will be praying that Atletico Madrid's injured hitman, Diego Costa, is fit.

Del Bosque will hope Diego Costa is fit.
Del Bosque will hope Diego Costa is fit.Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The Atletico striker is lethal, certainly in comparison to Torres or Fabregas.

It had been a frustrating evening for Torres, before he scored from the penalty spot after Martinez was (barely) fouled in the box.

He clipped the penalty straight down the middle, fooling the goalkeeper who had already dived to his right.

Barely minutes later, though, he showed his true self. Iniesta played an excellent ball in to him, and from 12 yards out he tried to lob the ball over the goalkeeper.

Instead, he hoofed it high into the stand.

Torres comically wasted a great chance after his goal.
Torres comically wasted a great chance after his goal.David Ramos/Getty Images

In contrast to Torres and Mata, this was a more positive night for other players, including Pedro and Iturraspe.

The Barcelona forward impressed, even if he couldn't score or provide an assist, while the Athletic Bilbao midfielder offered a composed display in the centre.

Iturraspe didn't put a foot wrong, even after switching to a deeper role alongside Sergio Busquets as part of a double pivot.

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla, who made way for Silva in the second half, played well, orchestrating the flow of the game from an attacking midfield role.

Mata, putting in his shift on the right, would have been wishing he was the man chosen to dictate the flow of the game from the middle.

That might have benefited Torres too, who clicked well with Mata when Rafa Benitez brought the latter into the heart of Chelsea's attacking midfield trio last season

As it was, Mata made way at half-time and Torres had his moment of glory from the spot, but it glossed over an otherwise disappointing display.