Spain’s elimination from the 2014 World Cup after just two games as defending champions certainly came as a surprise to many but there’s no need for the 2010 champions to panic.
The 2013 Confederations Cup saw a penalty shootout victory over Italy in the semi-finals before being thrashed 3-0 by Brazil in the final first saw question marks over the Euro 2008, 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 winners.
A 5-1 thrashing by the Netherlands and 2-0 by Chile have got many wondering what went wrong with Spain this year. The humidity in Brazil that appeared to affect their performances against Italy and Brazil 12 months ago? The pressure and expectation of winning the World Cup ? The lack of preparation? Barcelona’s lack of form at the end of a trophyless winning season? Over-confidence?
Spain are the third consecutive European nation to be eliminated from the group stage as defending World champions, after France in 2002 and Italy in 2010.
Interestingly, Patrick Vieira and Fabio Cannavaro both admitted at the start of this year’s tournament that when they were in the sides trying to defend the trophy there was an arrogance about them that they felt they didn’t need to prepare as hard and ultimately it backfired woefully. This could be a clue to Spain’s failures in Brazil.
There’s not a single player you can look at in the Spain squad and say they played well in their opening two games.
Defensively, they were a shambles and fingers could be pointed at goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas. The Real Madrid backup may have only played 2 La Liga games last season but he made 13 in the UEFA Champions League including the final last month, and a further 9 in the Copa del Rey. He did however make a poor error in conceding Atlético Madrid’s opener in the Champions League final.
Casillas arguably at fault for the Netherlands’ third, certainly their fourth and Chile’s second too. All killing off Spain’s hopes of getting back into their games. 33-years old now, it’s hard to call for his head based on his last two games but perhaps his position as Spain’s number 1 will not be so secure after the tournament.
The absence of Carles Puyol in the centre of defence was notable disastrous after being successful in the three previous tournaments. The communication between Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos and Barcelona’s Gerard Piqué proved disastrous.
Netherlands saw numerous opportunities, even before they’d scored their fourth. Wesley Sneijder had missed a one-on-one with a poor finish straight at the goalkeeper at 0-0.
32-year old Xabi Alonso is the centre of midfield has already announced his international retirement. Xavi is 34 and heading to Qatar, one would think his days in the Spanish national team are numbered. But the majority of the team around these two are still in their 20s and have plenty of time left. Andrés Iniesta is 30 but that is still young
Spain are certainly developing a number of talented youngsters, particularly in midfield, left, right and centre and one would think they won’t have too many problems going forward.
In attack, there were certainly problems for Spain in this tournament. Even four years ago they only scored 8 goals and became the lowest scorers to win the World Cup. In 2014, they have one goal from the penalty to show for from two games.
Now that Fernando Torres’ goals have dried up, with Diego Costa performing so poorly and David Villa at the age of 32 – Spain will surely be looking out for a new striker to lead the line in the future. It is their biggest need right now ahead of Euro 2016.
As for head coach Vicente del Bosque has said he is willing to leave although the Spanish Football Federation want him to stay following successes in 2010 and 2012.