Juande Ramos: Torres is still not fit but Iniesta can carry our hopes for now - News & Comment - Football - The Independent

Juande Ramos: Torres is still not fit but Iniesta can carry our hopes for now

The Spanish Angle: There is no doubt that Iniesta must come back. He injects something unique and whatever the coach decides, he will be in the team

Already we have England playing Germany in the last 16 and after tonight's matches we could have Spain v Brazil as well. I have no doubt that Spain can beat Chile – but if the Swiss thrash the weakest team in the group, Honduras, then they will come out on top and we will meet the Brazilians a bit earlier than expected.

The problem for Spain is that this could be too early for Fernando Torres to be at his absolute best – but despite the worries about the Liverpool striker, I am sure he will time his return to full fitness just right. And there is another return that fills me with confidence, that of Andres Iniesta.

He's had a thigh injury all season, but he will start tonight. I don't know if Vicente del Bosque will leave out Jesus Navas or David Silva to make way, but there is no doubt that Iniesta must come back. I said last week that it will be "the team" and not any one player who will be the star if Spain win the tournament, and I stand by that. But Iniesta injects something unique and I am sure whatever permutation the coach decides on, the Barcelona midfielder will be part of the starting XI.

Despite not having him in our last game we got back on track with a convincing win. The big difference between the first match and the second game? Luck. We played just as well against Switzerland but could not take our chances, but that changed against Honduras.

Torres missed his opportunities but that does not worry me. I thought he worked so hard for the team. You have to bear in mind that it was his first start since his April operation.

People have talked a lot about his misses, but he was strong and quick enough to get into the scoring positions in the first place, which is the most important thing. Sometimes when a striker is coming back that, fraction of sharpness – that is missing at first – shows itself in the finishing. He can only get back to 100 per cent by playing matches and if he does that in the next five games reaching his absolute peak in the final on 11 July then his timing will have been perfect.

I remember that Fabio Capello said when he took over as England manager that the most important positions in international football were centre forward and goalkeeper. A goalkeeping mistake or a striker's miss can determine whether a game is won or lost. England's first draw proved him right with the mistake from Green and Emile Heskey's miss, but I never doubted England would come through.

The Slovenia win lifts an enormous weight off of the players' shoulders. Now anything is possible for England.

Some say you might now have to beat Germany, Argentina, Spain and Brazil to win the tournament but that brings me back to my original point – if the Swiss win by more than us tonight then they could top the group. That means we would face Brazil next and you would have one less big rival to worry about!

Goal shy

Torres has scored 0.32 goals per game for Spain, compared to 0.7 goals per game for Liverpool.

Five asides...

1. Fabiano's anarchic personality can thrive in English football

Luis Fabiano has hit form and now has to be one of the favourites to finish top scorer. He played for me at Seville but it was a difficult time for him because he was still adapting after arriving from Brazil. Would he adapt to a move to England? I think he would because he is such a good player but he would need the right manager. He has a sort of anarchic personality – it is what makes him a great player but it can also make him a challenge to coach. If you can get him right mentally then you have a fabulous striker... or El Fabuloso, as they call him in Seville.

2. Maradona's experience makes him perfect for Argentina

The ease with which Diego Maradona has guided Argentina to the last 16 has surprised some people, but not me. People have spoken a lot about how he was not an experienced coach but Argentina have such good players they don't really need to be coached. What they need is a leader who they feel is one of them and who has experienced World Cup football – which makes Diego perfect for the job.

3. Coaches must focus on results before entertainment

It is easy to criticise the teams who have played defensively and I understand the desire for the World Cup to be a great spectacle from the first kick to the last but you have to remember that as professionals the coach has a responsibility to get the best out of his available resources, and if that means playing defensively then so be it. No country tells its players: "Yes, go and have fun. Who cares if you lose 6-0?" It might please the neutrals but if you play open football and get thrashed you have to go back home as a national embarrassment. No one wants that.

4. Sanchez shines brightly among the rarely seen talents

One of the fascinating things about the World Cup is getting a look at players you rarely see. Alexis Sanchez, the Chile striker, caught my eye again against the Swiss this week. He played well in their opener against Honduras and it will be interesting to see how he gets on against Spain today.

5. It's time for me to get on my bike

It isn't just the England team that are feeling cooped up. I've hired a bike in Cape Town so I can get some exercise when I'm not in the studio. This morning the plan is to ride out on the Chapman's Peak drive outside the city. I'm promised spectacular views, but the main benefit is to clear my head before the game. I'm not saying the England side need exercise, but let's hope their new surroundings in Port Elizabeth help them shed their fears.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week