POTCHEFSTROOM, South Africa (AP) — Spain coach Vicente del Bosque is considering benching struggling striker Fernando Torres for Wednesday's semifinal against Germany.
Torres has failed to score in any of Spain's five World Cup matches, rarely looking like a threat despite starting four straight games, including Saturday's 1-0 quarterfinal win over Paraguay.
"He remains a focal point for us," Del Bosque said on Sunday. "To be on a (scoreless) streak or not, he offers hard work and personality and he'll be our striker. Saying that doesn't mean he's an untouchable starter, but we have full confidence in him."
The 26-year-old Torres arrived at the World Cup still recovering from knee surgery in April. He hasn't scored in a competitive international since the Confederations Cup a year ago.
The match at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium is the first between the nations since Torres scored the winning goal in Spain's 1-0 victory in the European Championship final two years ago.
Del Bosque tinkered with his formation during the match against Paraguay, with midfielder Cesc Fabregas replacing Torres after 56 minutes, and forward Pedro Rodriguez later coming on. The offense picked up when Fabregas entered the match.
Fabregas could start against Germany as part of a five-man midfield behind David Villa, the tournament's leading scorer with five goals. That is how Spain lined up in the Euro 2008 final, with \ as the lone striker because Villa was injured.
"We wanted to see how (Paraguay) would respond to the situation, but they knew us well," Del Bosque said of the five-man midfield. "It didn't influence their game and there was no surprise factor. We went back to our usual ways. These alternatives depend on the rival."
Villa is one player who will definitely be in the starting lineup. The Barcelona-bound striker could lead the attack alone. Del Bosque may also bring in lanky striker Fernando Llorente, while midfielder David Silva is also a possibility despite mostly being confined to the bench during the World Cup.
"We've got so much competition in those positions," said Del Bosque, who has used an unchanged starting lineup for three straight games. "We've been entrenched in certain things. (But) it's also our strength — their union."