MIAMI – Fernando Torres is ready to carry Chelsea on his shoulders.
After winning Euro 2012 with Spain, Torres was beaming with anticipation in the pregame press conference ahead of his preseason debut for the UEFA Champions League holders against AC Milan on Saturday night (7 pm ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).
With Chelsea legend Didier Drogba now in China, Torres is the man now expected to take on the bulk of the scoring responsibilities.
“I like the responsibility,” Torres said in a press conference at SunLife Stadium. “It’s the thing I’ve been doing my whole life. Didier did everything for this club, winning the champions league and scoring the winning goal. It was an inspiration for us, especially for me.
“Our relationship was great. I was talking to him when he decided to leave and he wished me all the best and hopefully one day the Chelsea fans will remember me as they remember him.”
The Spanish forward, who scored his fair share of big goals for Chelsea in the stretch run of last season after a tough dry spell, is expected to play at least 30 minutes against Milan. But he said he may see extended minutes depending on how he feels.
“The first game after the break is difficult, you have to find your legs and find your fitness,” said Torres, who joined Chelsea in Philadelphia on Monday.
Now come the tough decisions for Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo, who has started his only central striker in the three matches of the club’s US tour: Romelu Lukaku. Eden Hazard and Marko Marin have played as a withdrawn forward in what has looked like a single-forward set-up.
Will Torres and Lukaku start together? Will Torres be the lone forward and Lukaku get a break?
“It’s a question for the coach,” Torres said. “Depends on the system. It could be for two [forwards], three or maybe even one, you never know. … But the important thing is to be prepared.
“For me, it’s a very important season. I have more responsibilities than other seasons and I’m eager to take it on knowing there is more being expected of me.”