Down and Out

by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 18th 2014)


The World champions are out and Vicente del Bosque Gonzálezʼ side deserve it. Chile have beaten Spain at the eleventh attempt. Chileʼs coach Jorge Sampaoli Moya out-thought his world renowned counterpart from start to finish with an energetic pressing game that knocked the aristocrats of world football out of their stride. This is the first time in eight years that Spain has lost back to back matches.

They are the fifth defending champions to go out in the first round, but have done so with a match to come, which adds to the humiliation. While Barçelonaʼs Alexis Sánchez Sánchez and Juventusʼ Arturo Vidal Pardo will grab many headlines in a famous win along with the goal-scorers Eduardo Vargas Rojas and Charles Aránguiz Sandoval, captain and goal-keeper Claudio Bravo Muñoz and Cardiff Cityʼs Gary Medel Soto were immense.

The Writing on the Wall

The 5-1 drubbing by the Netherlands over, Spain needed an emphatic response. It did not come. Del Bosque stuck with the unfit Diego da Silva Costa. Atlético de Madridʼs striker was disappointing in both matches, slow to get shots away and failing to test Bravo. Perhaps this was a case where the false 9 that had served del Bosque so well previously was a better option than the genuine 9s Costa and the misfiring Fernando Torres Sanz who had not been in a Spain squad since the Confederationsʼ Cup.

Xabi Alonso Olanoʼs misplaced pass was intercepted by Sánchez. An incisive one-two with Vidal was followed by a pass that found Aránguiz on the right in the area. He squared to Vargas who rounded Casillas to give Chile a lead that had been coming. Spainʼs response was a Costa shot into the side-netting after David Jiménez Silva put him clear – poor effort that summed up his first tournament for Spain.

With two minutes remaining in the first half Casillas made another howler, deciding to punch Sánchezʼ free-kick which should have posed no problems to catch. Aránguiz latched onto the rebound and his shot beat Casillasʼ desperate dive. Two nil down at half time del Bosqueʼs and Spainʼs legacy were on the line.

Tradition versus New-Comers

World Cup and football history suggested that Spain would come out fighting and somehow find a way out of their predicament, but Sampaoli and his team had other ideas. They defended like Titans, but this was not a team that got everyone behind the ball and looked to hold on to what they had. Six minutes into the second half Sergio Busquets Burgos spurned the best chance that Spain had. In 68 internationals he has never scored and after this miss it was not hard to see why.

The chance stemmed from another poor goalkeeping decision. Bravo chose to punch Sergio Ramos Garcíaʼs when it was straight at him – a strange decision after the problems experienced by Casillas. It was returned to the right of the area and Costaʼs overhead kick found Busquets 8 yards out on the left of the goal. He shot wide – a terrible miss. It was an omen of things to come.

Chances came and went for Vargas and Mauricio Isla Isla and substitute Santi Cazorla González demanded a save from Bravo who was equal to the test. Four years ago Barçelonaʼs Andrés Iniesta Luján scored the only goal of a dreadful World Cup Final to establish beyond doubt just how good a team Spain was. Iniesta went close again from outside the area, but Bravo refused to be beaten, tipping it over. Spainʼs reign was over.





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