By Francisco Delgado
Juan Mata believes Chelsea team-mate Fernando Torres deserves to be called up by Spain for Euro 2012.
Mata and Torres were both part of the Spain squad which won the World Cup in South Africa two years ago, but while the former looks certain to make the cut for this summer's continental competition, Torres' participation is under a cloud after a tough time at Stamford Bridge in 2011-12.
The former Atletico Madrid and Liverpool striker has looked closer to his best in recent times, however, and scored a crucial goal at Camp Nou to ensure Chelsea's qualification for this Saturday's Champions League final against Bayern Munich.
"Nobody at Chelsea doubted that Fernando would score important goals and less so me," Mata told Goal.com in an exclusive interview.
"He looks in good shape and I remember that he has good games against the Germans," the 24-year-old added, in reference to Torres' winner in the Euro 2008 final over Joachim Low's side.
"I am not the Spain coach, but I would take him to Euro 2012."
While his compatriot has laboured at times, Mata has been a success story in London and was recently named as the Blues' Player of the Year.
"I am very happy and surprised I have been chosen as [Chelsea's] Player of the Year," Mata revealed. "I didn't expect it because it's always very tough to adapt to a new club and a different country. My team-mates have helped me a lot."
And he explained: "The Premier League is much more physical than La Liga. Here you have to be much stronger to cope with the rhythm of competition and games. You end up totally shattered. But if the victories come, the sacrifice is worthwhile."
The former Valencia forward was signed in the summer by former Blues boss Andre Villas-Boas, but Chelsea's finest form this term has come recently under Roberto Di Matteo.
"It's undeniable that with Di Matteo we have played with more freshness and success has come," he said. "But we all know that AVB is a good coach and for him the run without a win was decisive [in his dismissal].
"Whether Di Matteo should stay or not is for the board to decide. The players are happy with him."
Having won the FA Cup already in his first season at Stamford Bridge, Mata will now look to add the Champions League to his already impressive collection of silverware.
Mata's Chelsea eliminated Pep Guardiola's Barca in semi-finals, as Real Madrid also surprisingly crashed out in the last four.
"Everyone was sure the Champions League final would be between Real Madrid and Barca," the forward remembered. "But in the end it's the other two teams in the final. That confirms that football is a sport in which predictions aren't always correct. But I am optimistic ahead of the Munich final, even though they are giving Bayern more chance than us."
Mata began his career at Madrid before moving to Valencia in search of first-team football, and he believes young players are not given a chance to progress at the Santiago Bernabeu.
"At Madrid when you come from the cantera it's very difficult to triumph," Mata stated. "They look for quick results and perhaps there isn't the same confidence in young players."
"There have been excellent players there who are now doing great things at other big clubs. There is no patience and that's a shame because there are a lot of quality players."
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