After winning the last three major international tournaments, many predicted that Spain could secure an unprecedented fourth consecutive major trophy, but nobody could of predicted the World Cup capitulation of a once dominant line-up.
Spain's opening game against the Netherlands could not have gone any worse. A humbling 5-1 defeat at the hands of Louis van Gaal's men sent shockwaves around the world, and sent a clear message to Los Rojiblancos' opposition, they no longer possessed the fear factor which helped them secure previous trophies.
Spain's style of play expectedly came under intense scrutiny. The Spanish built their success on their tiki-taka approach, focusing on ball retention and patience. While this style of play worked in previous tournaments, the effectiveness of tiki-taka has been drastically reduced, mainly because teams have worked out how to play against it.
Spain's slow build up play allows opponents to press them on the ball and force mistakes, a tactic opponents have previously opted against employing because of the threat of being cut open by their passing.
Chile demonstrated perfectly how to play against the Spanish. Press them high and in numbers, force mistakes, and counter attack quickly. This game plan employed by the Chileans proved to be hugely successful, as the Spanish had no answer to their superior energy and pace on the counter-attack, led by Barcelona's Alexis Sanchez. It is not necessarily all doom and gloom for Spain, but they need to change their style of play if they are to return to the top.
It is distinctly obvious that Spain lack pace in their attack. As proven in Spain's two group games to date, their inferior pace when attacking, allows opposition defenders to reset and retain their defensive shape, hence why players like Diego Costa remained almost entirely anonymous for both games, due to the fact he was stifled throughout.
Teams that have enjoyed success so far in this World Cup all share one similarity, they have pace in attack. Players such as Arjen Robben, Juan Cuadrado, Alexis Sanchez and Eden Hazard all provide fast counter attacking outlets for their teams when they gain possession. This fast counter-attacking has hit Spain hard, who have conceded more goals in their two group games than the last three major tournaments combined.
Spain's lack of a counter-attacking threat makes them vulnerable to becoming one dimensional, and as a result, people have worked out how to play against the tiki-taka style.
After Spain's performance in Brazil, it is fair to suggest that tiki-taka is losing its effectiveness, alternative styles such as fast counter attacking is becoming more prominent, and is harder to stop, Spain need to speed up their build up play, or change style altogether to make a swift return to the top.
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