Both the Belgians and the Americans are coming off with…
The World Champions faced the music following 2-0 loss against Chile in the 2nd round of the group stage; they were eliminated. However, this isn’t a time to pity one of then tournament heavy weights, but rather to celebrate their past, and to look forward to their future.
Having won three major honors in a row, the European Championship in 2008, the World Cup in 2010, and the European Championship in 2012, the Spaniards are definitely in contention for being the greatest national side the world has ever seen. It was a complete machine – which featured the leadership of Carlos Puyol, the control of Xavi Hernandez, the brains of Andres Iniesta, and the fantastic goal keeping of Iker Casillas; this particular Spanish generation formed a true juggernaut in National football. The Spanish side applied Barcelona’s dominance at the club level, and applied it to the national level, and it paid dividends. However, as far as football goes, everything comes and goes in cycles. And despite the exorbitant amount of talent and experience this Spain squad possessed, they too, weren’t immune to this phenomenon.
Spain now join Italy (2010) and France (2002) as World Champions that failed to pass the group stage in the following World Cup competition. The 1-5 mauling at the hands of the Dutch raised the question, the 0-2 loss against Chile answered it – this golden generation of Spanish players have run their course.
Age and fatigue (mental and physical) played a huge role in in the Spanish undoing. The vast majority of the squad had just come off one of the most brutally competitive La Liga seasons in years, featuring Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Real Madrid (respectively) fighting it out until the last matchday not even a month ago. Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid also battled all the way to the Champions League final, the final fixture in major European football, where Real where victorious in a dramatic 4-1 over time victory over their city rivals.
The major players are now four years older than they were when they won Spain’s first and only World Cup. Four years of venturing deep into virtually every competition they participated in. It was bound to happen some time. The loss of Carlos Puyol (retirement) put a huge dent in Spain’s back line, as the center back pairing of Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos proved to be too easy to breach. Casillas has also shown alarming deterioration of form, now committing huge blunders in both of Spain’s opening games. Xavi simply doesn’t have the legs to be able to be that consistent and highly reliable midfield engine that proved a major component in Spain’s title surges. This generation of Spanish players is over, but it doesn’t mean that Spain’s relevancy is over.
Beyond this generation, another wave of Spanish talent is ready to take the reins where their magnificent predecessors had left off. After all, the U – 21 Spain team are the current holders of the competition. The likes of Thiago Alcantara, Jese Rodriguez, Isco, David De Gea, Illaramendi, and many others show cased their domination in the competition. Other fantastic prospects also include Koke and Inigo Martinez. But you already know if you are a Spanish supporter. The youngsters have already made their marks in Club football, with the likes of David De Gea (Manchester United) , Jese Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich) already becoming virtual regulars in the starting line ups. The future, if handled correctly, can be extremely bright, like it has been for the last six years for La Furia Roja.