Torres set to start as Spain seek salvation

Preview: Spain v Honduras, Today, 7.30pm, ITV1
Click to follow
The Independent Football

If Fabio Capello thought he had it bad, then he should try Vincente del Bosque's past few days. Not only has the Spanish media hung him out to dry after the 1-0 defeat to Switzerland but his much feted predecessor Luis Aragones, who led Spain to the 2008 European title, has weighed in as well, declaring his successor was wrong in playing two holding midfielders – Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets – and only David Villa up front. That left Fernando Torres and creative midfielder Cesc Fabregas out of the line-up; Fabregas did not even come on as a substitute.

Today offers the opportunity for salvation, though the challenge of Honduras in Johnnesburg will not be the easiest. Spain need to absolve themselves at Ellis Park of the nerves which affected them against the Swiss and at least Torres is expected to start. "I've been training for more than two weeks with my team-mates and little by little I've forgotten about the injury," said the striker, who has not started a match since surgery on his right knee in April, which curtailed his Liverpool season. "It's up to the coach. He decides."

Torres could provide the punch Spain lacked against the Swiss in a game during which they lacked a cutting edge against a massed defence, despite having the bulk of the possession. "We had chances. We didn't score a goal and that was the key. Let's hope it doesn't happen again since that would be odd," Torres said. "The most important thing is not to allow anxiety to overwhelm us if minutes pass and we are not able to score."

Gerard Piqué believes Fabregas should play a more integral role. "A lot of touch, the ability to get into the area and goals," Piqué said. "If the coach opts for him, he'll help us very much." Since the defeat, the Spanish players have insisted there will be no change to the team's possession-based, quick-touch game, regardless of who starts. "It's hard to evaluate, especially since the system worked well in the warm-up games," Xabi Alonso said. "The coach makes the decisions and whatever he decides, the players back him 100 per cent."

What to watch out for: Honduras' attacking verve

Honduras coach Reinaldo Rueda expects the full force of a Spanish backlash, but, having served a touchline ban in the 1-0 defeat by Chile after being sent off in Honduras' last qualifier against El Salvador, he will at least be present and hoping that his main striker, David Suazo, has recovered from a right thigh injury. Though outplayed by Chile in the 1-0 defeat, Honduras showed attacking verve at stages during the match.