Three Thoughts after Spain's Early Exit
Chile won the battle of “La Roja” with a 2-0 win over the defending world champions, Spain. The loss leaves Vicente Del Bosque's squad knocked out. Here are three thoughts after Spain's early World Cup exit.
1. Weariness was La Roja's killer
There was reason to be optimistic coming into the big event: Diego Costa would be that striker who would finish the plays, the Spanish team had footballers who had won titles in Germany, England, and Italy, and then there was the notion that the team was still hungry for achieving more history. But after another Maracana dreadful night, this was not the case.
Once again the scene repeated itself, Spain's opponent sung the national anthem with their hearts out, reminiscing how Brazil sung the national anthem in the Confederations Cup final at Maracana . But this time the opponent was Chile, a team characterized by an insatiable hunger that makes them play in a suicidal fashion because when they attack, it's extreme.
Spain arrived to Brazil tired. No one was at his best. No one, not even Iker Casillas or Sergio Ramos after winning La Decima. Jordi Alba threw away possession with bad passes time after time, Sergio Busquets missed the unthinkable, and Xabi Alonso was late with his tackles. Nothing that happened on the pitch was worthy of the six glorified Spanish years, as if the team had lost an identity that had spread to other countries like Italy or Germany.
2. The only light in the darkness was provided by Koke and Iniesta
When Koke came out in the second half for Xabi Alonso, the Spanish national team recovered some of the redness in their cheeks that was lost after the two Chile goals. Koke represents the generational switch that will be talked about a lot in the coming hours. He is a player that possesses the DNA every Spanish footballer who wears the red jersey builds on year after year, only that he is younger and has a dynamism in him that Xabi Alonso and Xavi Hernandez no longer have.
Andres Iniesta has been Spain's best player in the losses against the Netherlands and Chile. He never gave up; he was always trying to create something when the 10 players around him looked desolate and lost. Iniesta's games against the Netherlands and Chile add more to his story, one that is almost perfect.
3. Diego Costa's unfortunate World Cup
Costa's tournament has been unfortunate. There was a lot of hope around his decision to play for Spain because of how spectacular his season was going with Atletico Madrid, but then his season hit the road-blocks, which were filled with injuries. At one point in the season, Costa was not Costa, not because defenses knew how to defend against him, but rather because his body reached a boiling point. It stopped, and he couldn't prevent it.
Del Bosque made the final decision to take him to Brazil, knowing that the Costa he selected was not the Costa that made people in Spain think that he would be one of the team's solutions in the World Cup. During the Chile game, more than one journalist was critical with how Costa was playing for Spain. Costa is an easy prey because he was the new guy, but as pointed out earlier, this World Cup was not Spain's. The players that had reached the very top of the game had their bodies in Brazil, but their minds were somewhere else. Costa has no fault; everything happened at the wrong time.