Van Persie and Torres: Poor man's Stephane Guivarc’h?
And so it comes down to this. A man to man battle to between two Premier League stars to find out who wins the coveted Stephane Guivarc’h award for most disappointing World Cup winning forward 2010.
Oddly, both Spain and Holland have got to the final carrying their two star number 9’s. Both have been playing with 10 1/2 men.
So much was made of both these players. Pundits wax lyrical on their technique, pace, strength and clinical finishing. In reality, Torres and Van Persie have both looked slow, clumsy, weak and wayward. Torres, plagued by injury all season, has never really looked like the player who scored for fun in Euro 2008 or the Premier League (though admittedly not last season). Surgery and a lack of match practice in a team devoid of confidence has made him a appear like a shadow of his former self.
Van Persie, on the other hand, has always been plagued by injury. One of the most technically gifted players in Europe, he has looked well off the pace in South Africa. The touch and vision is still there, but the legs aren’t working how they should be. So who has been most disappointing? It’s obvious really. But here is a stat attack from FIFA:
Robin Van Persie
Attempted 152 passes, 90 of which have been successful (59% completion rate).
15 shots in total
Offside 9 times
Torres stats make for painful reading. But here they are:
Attempted 64 passes, 31 of those were completed, (48% pass completion rate).
13 shots in total
The offiside statistic for Torres is remarkable. He usually plays on the shoulder of the last defender, and his goal against Germany in 2008 was a great finish from that position. During the World Cup he has just not been at the races, a pale imitation of his former self.
But how about some context – here are David Villa’s stats:
Attempted passes 219, 148 completed (68%)
He has had 26 shots (Twice as many as Torres)
Offside on two occasions (he plays wider so not surprising)
So we all know that Torres is having a poor World Cup. But “he has been injured” you say, “he shouldn’t have chopped off his blonde hair, therein lies the power” you cry, Liverpool had a poor year, it’s not down to poor baby faced Fernando.
But what is odd is that this isn’t the first time a team, or in this case two, have reached the World Cup finals with their star striker out of form. Four years ago, Italy couldn’t choose between Gilardino or Toni. France 1998 had the cult figure of Stephane Guivarc’h plowing what must have been the most lonely of lone furrows.
So do you really need a real forward to win a World Cup? I’d have to say probably not, (although David Villa is the hole in my argument, as well as the context). As an old coach always said to me: “If you can shut up shop, the team will always get a chance to nick a goal. You got two results to keep you going, the draw and the win. You got to play percentages in this game, defend well and you’ll always get a chance”.
So who wins the Stephane Guivarc’h award? Afraid it has to go to Fernando Torres. I am sure he will be back though, perhaps not next year just like Rooney, Messi, Ronaldo and Kaka.
But worrying for all those players who failed to impress in South Africa is the fact that a World Cup only comes round every four years, and there are going to be a lot of players needing to prove a point in Brazil – but only one can really write themselves into history.
Having said all that, Liverpool fans needn’t worry too much, as I’m sure Fernando will pick up next season – at Stamford Bridge.