RECIFE – Spain striker Fernando Torres has a stark message for anyone who thinks the world and double European champions might take their foot off the gas at the Confederations Cup with one eye on next summer’s World Cup.
The Furia Roja are hungry for more, says the Chelsea forward.
Spain, who Sunday take on South American champions Uruguay in their Confederations Cup opener in Recife, became the first national side to lift three consecutive major tournaments in retaining their European crown last year but Torres says there is more unfinished business here in Brazil.
“We haven’t won everything. This tournament we still haven’t won and we are here to do so,” said the Chelsea striker.
“The desire, the inertia, the moment always asks more of you. That is why you are always desperate for the next tournament to arrive to be able to win it and continue making history.
“We have won the European Championship, World Cup, European Championship, and we want to lift the Confederations, which is what we are lacking. And then add on the World Cup again, why not?”
Uruguay won the Copa America two seasons ago in Argentina, knocking out the hosts along the way, though their form has dipped markedly since.
Defender Diego Lugano says the Celeste will have to be on their best form to get a result against the Spanish.
“They are the best team in the world, without a doubt, so it’s normal the odds are stacked in their favour,” said Lugano, the Uruguayan skipper.
And noting Torres’ clear desire for yet more success, Lugano added: “The only remaining doubt is whether they are the best of all time as coach Vicente Del Bosque looks to mastermind yet more silverware.
“But it suits us that we are not cast in the role of favourites,” Lugano warned. “In the past that has often suited us.”
Uruguay come here on the back of a narrow South American World Cup qualifying success over Venezuela and Lugano says that having those three points under their belts is a major psychological boost, as was a June 5 friendly win over France in Montevideo.
“Had we not won against Venezuela then it would have made things complicated in terms of getting through to the finals,” the veteran noted.
Getting off to a flier at the Arena Pernambuco is crucial for both sides as they look to avoid a meeting with the winners of a tough looking Group A, which includes Brazil as well as three-times world champions Italy, Asian champions Japan and Olympic champions Mexico.
Spain know that three early points in the bag would leave them with a foot in the semi-finals ahead of games with African champions Nigeria and cannon fodder Tahiti.
Uruguay’s attacking midfielder Gaston Ramirez says that last February’s friendly loss to the Spanish in Qatar is irrelevant to Sunday’s showdown.
“Now there is much more at stake – this is no friendly,” said the Southampton star. “We mustn’t give them too much of the ball as they are a little bit like Barcelona. You give them the ball and it’s very hard to get it back!”
Spain are to consider whether to give Victor Valdes a rare start in goal in place of Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas, who broke his hand in January and then found himself left on the Real bench by then Real boss Jose Mourinho.
“The coach will decide who starts,” was Valdes’ curt response to his chances of winning a 15th cap for his country.
Much will depend for Uruguay on whether their wily striker Luis Suarez can find top gear Sunday after a controversial season at Liverpool where he scored 23 goals but was also banned for ten matches for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.
Suarez, who said earlier in the week that Liverpool “would listen to the offer” if a Real Madrid or Barcelona tried to lure him from Anfield – says Spain do have weaknesses.
“We know it’s tough to get the ball off them but sometimes they leave themselves a little open on the flanks going forward and that can create a bit of space which we could exploit.”