Torres makes long-awaited Barça debut
Spanish international starlet Ferran Torres finally made his full debut for La Liga giants Barcelona tonight when the Blaugrana clashed with bitter rivals Real Madrid at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh during the semi-finals of the Supercopa de España.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 12, 2022
Torres was the first signing of the new Xavi regime at the Camp Nou after the iconic former midfielder replaced Ronald Koeman, with the former Manchester City and Valencia forward completing a €55million (£45million) move back to Spain after an 18-month stay in England under Pep Guardiola.
The Valencia academy graduate was part of a front-three that also included Dutch international center-forward Luuk de Jong and French winger Ousmane Dembélé at the expense of Barça wonderkid Ansu Fati and summer signing Memphis Depay.
But Torres only managed to complete just 45-minutes of action in tonight’s loss to Madrid in what was his first appearance since 21 September in City’s 6-1 thrashing of League One outfit Wycombe in the third round of the Carabao Cup.
And perhaps it can be said that the Spanish winger hardly was able to effect proceedings against Los Blancos in a manner befitting his ability on the pitch.
Spanish starlet ineffective in his first club appearance
“Plenty of appetite and passion but it didn’t quite come off for him on his debut.”
Spanish outlet MARCA perfectly summed up the night for Ferran Torres in their match ratings after 45-minutes of action which did little to truly cement his influence on proceedings in the Saudi Arabian capital.
Before his move to Barcelona this winter, Torres began making a name for himself as a goal threat in the final weeks of the 2020-21 Premier League campaign when he bagged 5-goals in 6-appearances between matchdays thirty-one and thirty-eight. That trend continued this season with a brace and an assist against Arsenal in a 5-0 thrashing of the Gunners, with further evidence coming on the international stage with Spain when he found the back of the net on twelve occasions in sixteen caps across the UEFA Nations League, World Cup Qualifying, and Euro 2020.
For both club and country, Torres’ goalscoring instincts in the final third and off-ball movement during combination play proved vital under Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique, with a license to roam and interchange across the forward line allowing him to work the half-spaces rather than be isolated in ineffective positions.
However, against Real Madrid, that is precisely the situation that Torres found himself in as Xavi seemingly tasked the 21-year-old with holding the right-side touchline to find space rather than tucking more centrally to get involved during multiple passages of play.
As seen in the above heatmap via Sofascore, most of his time was spent wide right in order to allow for combination play with right-back Dani Alves, who oftentimes would look to get forward and utilize underlapping runs that could potentially result in the creation of goalscoring chances, but this undoubtedly stripped Torres of his ability to contribute in more a more effective manner.
The only time Torres did get into a strong position to create or find a sniff at goal produced a cross that was ultimately blocked. Additionally, he managed to attempt just eight passes all night from seventeen touches while being dispossessed on five occasions and only completing a single dribble.
Those numbers could easily have increased if Torres stayed on longer than just until the half-time interval but if Barcelona are to make his capture from Manchester City worthwhile, it is vital that Xavi utilize him in a manner that brought him to their attention in the first place.