Fernando Torres rolled back the years for Atletico Madrid this weekend. After going 11 league games–and four months–without a goal, he scored both in Atletico’s win over Leganes.
His first was to react quickly to Antoine Griezmann penalty miss and touch home the rebound. Griezmann had failed to score from five of his last seven spot kicks, among them a miss in the Champions League final. Manager Diego Simeone shrugged it off by saying that Lionel Messi, Neymar and other great players have also missed penalties, but it's clear that he needs to take Griezmann off spot-kick duties for a while.
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Torres’s second was a smart chop, reminiscent of the goal he scored in the Euro 2008 final against Germany. Torres is 32, and we are approaching that time of the season when contract talks come into view. Will he be offered a new one-year deal next season? Simeone loves the example he sets to the younger players with his work ethic and attitude in training. Sometimes a non-playing senior squad member can be a hugely important part of the group.
“He was not playing but he trained the same as always. That is his best virtue and I hope he stays on this same path now,” said Simeone after the game. “Renewing his contract depends on many factors: the club, sporting director and the coach. As always, it depends on results.”
Atletico faces Barcelona this week in the second leg of the Copa del Ray semifinal; it lost the first leg at home 2-1, so it is still in contention. For Barcelona, 3-0 winner over Athletic Bilbao, summer signing Paco Alcacer scored his first goal for the club. This correspondent always thought Torres himself would make a perfect back-up striker to the Barcelona front three of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez. Perhaps this is a chance for Torres, a notorious Barcelona killer, to remind the Blaugrana of that.