There’s a good chance this was Andres Iniesta’s final appearance at a European Championships.
The universally-popular Spanish midfielder will be 36 by the time Euro 2020 comes around and big changes are expected in La Roja’s squad following another disappointing tournament.
Iniesta, however, was probably Spain’s standout performer throughout Euro 2016. The Barcelona superstar, who scored the winning goal at the 2010 World Cup final, was one of the few Spanish players who caused the Italians problems on Monday afternoon.
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However, there was one moment in the first half that Iniesta will be keen to forget.
The Spaniard went to challenge Daniele De Rossi for the ball and ended up getting nutmegged. (Scroll down to watch the video).
Video: De Rossi nutmegs Iniesta
Iniesta: 'We have to accept the disappointment'
Spain were the strong favourites heading into their last-16 tie, but lacked the cutting edge required to find a way past the Italian defence and their brilliant goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
Giorgio Chiellini scored the opening goal towards the end of the first half, while Graziano Pelle added gloss to the scoreline by adding a late second in stoppage time.
"There's little to say," Iniesta was quoted as saying by Goal after the match. "We have to accept the disappointment and that they were more efficient in the key moments and they outdid us.
"I think we were focused too much on what they were doing and sometimes that can punish you.
"In the first half we got it wrong, we were looking too much at what they were doing and that hurt us. In the second half it was different, we were ourselves."
Del Bosque set to be replaced
Vicente del Bosque is now expected to be replaced as the Spanish national team’s head coach.
While Euro 2016 hasn’t been as embarrassing for La Roja as their humiliating showing at the 2014 World Cup finals, it will still be considered a disappointment.
"It has been and is a great era for Spanish football," Del Bosque told reporters at the Stade de France, per Sky Sports. "We have Italy ahead of us for the World Cup qualifiers in Russia and we have to prepare for that.
"I don't think an era has ended. Spanish football is very well structured -- there are good academies, very good players and very good clubs.
"This shows us how difficult it is to win a major championship. Only one can win - the other 23 will be eliminated."
Joaquín Caparrós, Julen Lopetegui and Roberto Martinez are amongst the names reportedly in the frame to replace Spain’s current head coach.
Should Andres Iniesta retire from international football? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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