Defending Champion Falls: Spain Out of the World Cup

Defending Champion Falls: Spain Out of the World Cup
Bernadine Racoma

The international football stage does not defer to anyone. Defending champion Spain found the reality too harsh at it bowed out of the group stage of the 2014 World Cup on Tuesday, defeated by Chile with a 2-0 score. It was a dismal World Cup performance from Spain, which had dominated world soccer for six years and is supposed to be one of soccer’s greatest teams. But the final score last Tuesday was not as hurting as its first game, where it was thoroughly beaten by Netherlands with a score of 1-5.

Bowed out without a fight

What shocked fans was that Spain did not even put up much of a fight during the entire game. In the first half Chile had already scored twice. After halftime, Spain took possession of the ball for most of the time but they rarely threatened their opponent. The forceful display of fighting spirit that Spain’s national team showed the world in Johannesburg in 2010 was not evident.

There was still a glimmer of hope five minutes to the end of the game. Andres Iniesta’s curling shot seemed to give Spain a goal but at the last moment Claudio Bravo, Chile’s goalkeeper flicked it away. And that was it. Spain did not get a chance again.

With their second defeat in their two games in Group B, Spain’s World Cup fate was sealed. Hours earlier Australia lost to the Netherlands, ensuring that Spain will not be able to defend its title. Australia and Spain will still have their regulation group stage play-off on June 23.

End of Spain’s winning streak?

The loss came as a shock to almost everyone, because Spain is a soccer powerhouse. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger likened the shock to an earthquake, where the disaster came and went just like that, and leaving people wondering what happened and what went wrong.

Spain had a 44-year drought for international title wins, which ended in 2008 when in won the UEFA Euro Cup, then held aloft the World Cup trophy in 2010 and the Euro Cup trophy once again in 2012. Spain was the Mediterranean Games champion in 2009. The Spanish national team was the winner of the FIFA Team of the Year award for six consecutive years since 2008 and was Laureus World Team of the Year winner in 2011.

Many had been suggesting that Spain’s dominance in international soccer is already at its end before the staging of the World Cup. And it seemed that they have been proven correct during the opening game where they were emphatically crushed by the Netherlands. Even the presence of many Spanish internationals, the decline of the team’s performance can already be seen. Some of the blunders were committed by no less than goalkeeper and team captain Iker Casillas.

Sweet revenge for the Netherlands

Four years ago, the Netherlands lost to Spain in the World Cup finals. This year, the Dutch team made sure they did not have a repeat of that. The Flying Dutchman, Robin van Persie, contributed two goals to the finally tally of five.

Image credit: Chilean fans celebrate win over Spain taken by Agência Brasil under Public Domain.

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