by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 23rd 2014)
World Champions Spain had lost their hunger after six years of dominating world and European football. They became the fifth defending champions to exit in the first round. Italy have suffered that ignominy twice (1950 and 2010), Brasil in 1966 and France in 2002, but few were as surprising as this. Having dominated the sport for so long nobody expected such a capitulation.
This afternoon one of the finest generation of players to grace the sport set the record straight with a 3-0 win over Ange Postecoglouʼs Socceroos. David Villa Sánchez bid farewell to la Roja in his 97th international with a Spanish record 59 international goals – the last in this match – a sublime back-heel from 8 yards out. Andrés Iniesta Luján picked out Atlético de Madridʼs Juanfran on the byline. Juanfran picked out Villa who showed that at 32 he still had the class.
After the World Cup Villa departs to play for Melbourne City and New York City FC, part of Manchester Cityʼs franchise.
Setting the Record Straight
Spain dominated possession. Australia were bereft of ideas in the absence of their suspended captain Tim Cahill. Given Postecoglouʼs mandate to bring young players through – Australia hosts the Asian Championship in 2016 – Cahillʼs international career may be over. Mark Bresciano made an appearance from the bench aged 34. This could be his swansong. International retirement is likely for Barcelonaʼs Xavi Hernández i Creus as well.
Despite the much publicised training ground bust up between coach Vicente del Bosque and Cesc Fàbregas Soler, Chelseaʼs new signing made an appearance from the bench. Fernando Torres Sanz tried to repeat Villaʼs goal, but missed and was offside, but later he got his goal. With 20 minutes remaining Iniesta pass through the Australian defence was taken by Torres on the left of the area and slotted between keeper Matthew Ryanʼs legs to double Spainʼs lead.
Vila had already been replaced by Manchester Unitedʼs Juan Mata García. The former Valencia and Chelsea midfielder completed the scoring with just under ten minutes of normal time remaining. Fàbregasʼ pas found Mata on the right of the area. Mata controlled and nutmegged Ryan again for the third.
Honour partially restored. With very talented young players having won youth tournaments playing the same possession football that the late Luis Aragonés Suárez implemented along with a winning mentality in 2008 and del Bosque utilised to win the World Cup and retain the European Championship in 2012, it is far too early to write Spain off.
Hunger restored and youngsters blooded they will be back wounded and thirsting for success sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, the team they beat to win the World Cup four years ago, the Netherlands battle Chile to top the group and probably avoid hosts Brasil.