World and European champions Spain suffered an early exit from the World Cup on Wednesday night, as Chile defeated La Roja 2-0 to progress to the last 16 along with Holland.
Spain will now contest the wooden spoon with Australia on Monday.
Chile came into the World Cup as highly-rated underdogs, but they produced a very impressive display of hard work, skill and determination.
Jorge Sampaoli’s team took a lead and had some luck, but were deserving of their two goal win.
If they continue in their current vein then they could be very dangerous opponents to any team in the last 16.
Spain had no answer to Chile’s energy and verve. It was almost sad to watch as Spain struggled to cope with their South American opponents. It looked to be the end of an era for the Spanish. A lot of their players looked off the pace and slower than their opponents.
Spain have played the Tiki-Taka style of play for the last couple of years, but in this tournament La Roja seemed to have abandoned their famous system and attempted to adapt their style. However, it seems this change of playing style has only been attempted at the World Cup, which is a terrible time to experiment.
For the likes of Iker Casillas, Xavi, Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres this could be their last tournament. After some of their performances at the finals it would be justified if they were dropped from the national side or simply retired from international football.
Casillas’ performances were especially poor, as he was culpable for Chile’s second goal, after that terrible performance against Holland in La Roja’s opening game.
Spain adapting their style of play seemed to be due to La Roja having Chelsea-bound striker Diego Costa up front. This tactic may have worked if the Brazilian-born striker was fully-fit and at the top of his game.
However, he was not and entered the competition with an injury. Costa picked up an injury in the Champions League semi-final and has struggled to shake of the injury ever since. Spain boss Vicente del Bosque should maybe have taken this into account, instead of putting all his eggs in one Costa shaped basket.
It seems that while other nations have moved forward with their football, but Spain has not. Their Tiki-Taka style of football had worked for a long time, so maybe they should have worked on evolving the style.
As proved by Barcelona and Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich last season, the Tiki-Taka style needs adapting. Spain did not attempt to adapt that system, instead they played an in descript style of football because of the presence of Costa up front.
Football works in cycles and it seems that Spain’s reign as top dogs in international football has now come to an end. It happens to every successful football team. They are successful for a period and then another team comes along to take the mantle.
The good news for Spanish fans and bad news for the rest of us is that Spain has a host of bright prospects just waiting for a chance to fulfil their destiny at international level. Maybe it is time for Spain to rejuvenate their national team.
It seemed like a whole host of the current squad were tired and no longer hungry for success, which breeds an atmosphere of apathy to football. When a squad gets to that point, changes are needed to bring back that hunger.
Spain are lucky enough to have a host of talented young players coming through, with the likes of Daniel Carvajal, Jese Rodriguez and Isco at Real Madrid just a few younger players who are set to have bright futures in the game.
The Spanish teams at youth level have been highly successful in recent years and with a few tactical tweaks Spain are likely to be back with a new generation of players in future competition.
Just because Spain were poor in Brazil does not mean that they are finished. The Spanish already have some bright young players in their squad and with a few braver managerial decisions Spain could be back challenging in future tournaments.
However, for La Roja fans Brazil 2014 will be a tournament to quickly forget, as their players just failed to show up.
Where did it go wrong for Spain at the World Cup?