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Barca forward Torres ‘ready to step up’ in big week

Barcelona forward Ferran Torres. Photo: Pau Barrena / AFP

Barcelona winger Ferran Torres said Tuesday he is ready to step up a gear in a vital week for the Spanish champions, who are missing several players through injury, including striker Robert Lewandowski.

The Catalans face Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday in the Champions League, aiming for a third victory in three games in Europe, before hosting rivals Real Madrid on Saturday in the season’s first La Liga Clasico.

Torres, who has struggled for form since joining Barca from Manchester City in 2022, says he is confident he can keep improving to help the team at a difficult time.

“We’ve got a lot of injuries, I think that I am ready to take this step forward, I’m very confident and I’m prepared for what’s coming,” Torres told a news conference ahead of the clash with Shakhtar.

“I don’t need to gain more confidence, I have enough, I have what I need — but I can improve a lot of things.

“I’m 23 and at the start of my career even though I’ve been going for a lot of years already.”

Torres said he was grateful to coach Xavi Hernandez for bringing him to Barcelona and sticking with him through difficult spells.

“The coach has always been there, he’s always given me good advice, he’s played me when he’s decided to,” added the winger.

“I’ll always be grateful because it was him who gave me the confidence to come to Barca when they signed me and I learn a lot from him.”

Although Torres is still young, he is one of the more experienced players at the club, with plenty of youngsters coming through from the La Masia youth academy.

Striker Marc Guiu, 17, scored 33 seconds into his debut to earn Barca a 1-0 win over Athletic at the weekend that pulled his side within a point of La Liga leaders Madrid.

“I feel like an old guy but I try to give the advice that I can,” said Torres, of the emerging teenagers.

“They’re footballers who are coming through strong, they’re finding their places, getting plenty of starts … they have enormous potential.”

Xavi said he thought Torres, who has scored four goals in 11 games across all competitions this season, is coming into his own.

“Forwards live from goals, they generate so much confidence… Ferran has confidence, he plays with more ease, calmer, without tension,” said the coach.

Barcelona have failed to progress from their group in each of the past two seasons but wins over Royal Antwerp and Porto have put them top of Group H at the start of this season’s campaign.

They face Shakhtar without a host of injured players — Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Sergi Roberto — and Gavi is suspended.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s what we have — the situation before us at this moment,” added Xavi.

“We have to improve and compete tomorrow for the three points, having all those absences will not be an excuse.”

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