After winning three-straight major competitions, the Spanish soccer dynasty is over.
Spain lost 2-0 to a younger, faster, more athletic Chile team on Wednesday. The defending champions have been eliminated from the 2014 World Cup, and their game next week against Australia will effectively be an exhibition.
After coming into the tournament as one of the favourites, they have been outscored 7-1 over 180 minutes.
Like the second half against the Netherlands, Spain couldn’t get the type of possession we’ve seen from them in recent years. They were hounded in the midfield and sloppy at the back.
Spain’s best defence through the last eight years has been its ability to hold the ball and never, ever give it away. That all went out the window in Brazil, and the goals started flowing in past a sub-standard Iker Casillas.
Chile opened the scoring in the 19th minute when Eduardo Vargas stabbed in a shot on a counterattack. They went 2-0 up in the 43rd minute when Spain failed to clear a free kick and Charles Aránguiz netted a soft shot.
The South Americans got chance after chance on the counter. It could have been worse than 2-0.
Some will see this as the death of Spain’s tiki-taka style. But in the end the demise of this Spain squad, one of the best teams in the history of the sport, has a more familiar explanation — age.
Xavi, Andres Iniesta, and Xabi Alonso are all over 32 years old. That trio had dominated every midfield in the world for years. In 2014 they were run off the ball and overwhelmed by well-organised opposing midfields, and Xavi was even benched for the Chile game.
The Netherlands and Chile will advance out of Group B. The winner players the runner-up from Group A (probably Mexico), while the runner-up from Group B plays the winner from Group A (probably Brazil).
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