(Image source from: How this World Cup went wrong for Spain?})
It's the end of the road for Spain. The defending world champions are out of the tournament. In body, Spain has another meaningless final group game to play on Monday, but mathematically and in spirit, they are out of the World Cup contention.
Fans are shocked, appalled, dismayed. All the XI players have let them down. Blame it on Xavi Hernandez, who was dropped from this match or their inability to handle the pressure-cooker stress on the pitch, their last night's match would certainly go down in the annals of World Cup as the worst defence ever, even more hapless than Italy's in South Africa in 2010. We analyze five tings that could have possibly gone wrong for the title holders in Brazil.
Sticking to the oldies
Post their crushing 5-1 defeat in the hands of Netherlands in their opening match of the tournament, coach Vincente del Bosque opted to replace Xavi Hernandez and Gerard Pique with Pedro Rodriguez and Javi Martinez. But seems, the coach got a tad bit late in rejuvenating the squad. An energetic, passionate player like Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke was brought to the side a little too late. Also the decision to retain Iker Casillas proved to be suicidal for the team. He might be the captain of a great team, but Del Bosque would have done the team a he favor had he replaced Casillas with better alternatives.
Why point all fingers at the goalkeeper alone when the defenders are equally to be blamed for Spain's embarrassing rout. We must not forget that Spain's 2010 victory as well as their Euro 2012 win came because of their watertight defence. Spain missed the magic of Carles Puyol and so did we. Against both the Netherlands and Chile, Spain came up with unorthodox formations that failed to stop the seven goals that were leaked in two games.
Going for Diego Costa
Once coach Del Bosque convinced Diego Costa to represent Spain than Brazil, it was inevitable that the Atletico Madrid star was introduced in the starting line-up. However, Spain failed to introduce the bruising centre-forward to their style of play. He looked ill at ease in the field. And that the unhappy Brazilians constantly booed him down both in Salvador and in Rio de Janeiro made things worse for him.
Failure to play different
Spain's over-confidence in a system that has worked so well for them in the past and won them championships could be to blamed for their dismal performance in this World Cup. La Roja's style has been built around the Barcelona way of playing that brought them so much success under Pep Guardiola. However, Barcelona's recent rout in the Champions League semi-finals indicated that the days of 'tiki-taka' were numbered.
Playing in South America
For an European nation to win the World Cup on the American continent wasn't going to be a cakewalk. The beginning of the end for Spain came at the Maracana a year ago, where they lost 3-0 to Brazil in the Confederations Cup final, and the decline has continued.
AW: Suchorita Choudhury