Spain’s stunning group stage knockout on the biggest stage of them all signals a major power shift in world football. The defending champions have been knocked out after only two games, scoring only one goal and conceding seven in the process.
The likes of Diego Costa, Koke, Azpilicueta, Javi Martinez and David Silva are all wonderful players in their own right and have enjoyed great seasons, but they lack the pedigree of Pep Guardiola’s coaching and philosophy which was a pivotal part of Spain’s success. The 2010 World Cup final featured no less than seven Barcelona players which made up the spine of the team. Madrid players such as Ramos, Casillas and Xabi Alonso complimented and solidified the style in key areas rather than dictate it.
The somewhat unexpected success of the Atletico Madrid side has almost forced Del Bosque into selecting their players but in doing so he has overlooked what made his previous Spanish side so successful. Spain were inextricably linked with the Catalonian side in both style and personnel and it is no coincidence both have fallen from grace at the same time.
The impenetrable tika-tika of years gone by was almost nonexistent as they attempted to force the play without any patience. They gave possession away cheaply to the Chileans and never looked settled when they did have the ball. Previous Spanish teams would never have been fazed by conceding and would maintain their composed possession game.
Now, there seemed to be a mix of three or four very different styles amongst the players and the Spanish side ended up as a group of individuals rather than the exceptional team that had enjoyed so much glory over the past six years.
Too many players had their own ideas of how to play the game and the final score says it all about what happens in that scenario.
Tactics too, have evolved since the last major tournament. Sides are no longer fearful of giving the opposition plenty of possession in favour of a more rigid, counter attacking style. This was particularly evident in the Champions League semi-final when Real Madrid comfortably eased their way past Bayern Munich.
The Vicente Del Bosque era at Spain must now surely be at an end. Nobody should ever forget how incredible his achievements were but Brazil 2014 was a step too far and it is now time to rebuild. Spain can no longer rely on emulating Barcelona and it will be up to the new manager to direct where the national side heads next. Whoever gets the job will have a vast array of talent at their disposal but will need to adopt a clear philosophy to gel the new wave of Spanish players together.
It’s been great, but all great things must come to an end.
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