All good things...
All good things...
On Wednesday, the Spanish national team eliminated from the 2014 FIFA World Cup, as "La Furia Roja" lost to "La Roja" of Chile 2-0 at the Maracanã stadium.
Most people were thinking the 5-1 loss to the Netherlands a week prior might have a fluke. We now know it was no fluke.
The "Fin de Ciclo" is here for España.
Over the last six years, Spain has given their fans and the world some of the most beautiful, dominating football history has ever seen.
Luis Aragonés began the run of dominance in 2008, but he planted the seeds of success in 2006 when he called up many young players to the World Cup in Germany. Andres Iniesta, Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas and David Villa were some of the young players Aragonés called to the squad. By 2008, these players were ready to greatly contribute to the national team alongside Xavi, Carles Puyol, Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas and others. Spain finally "broke the curse" and won Euro 2008.
Vicente Del Bosque replaced Aragonés, and continued the reign of dominance. Spain went into the 2010 FIFA World Cup as favorites. Spain lost their first game 1-0 to Switzerland. It seemed like they were going to be a major disappointment. But Spain began their run toward the title and never looked back. With midfield dominance, solid defending, great goalkeeping, and a striker in Villa on fire, Spain went on the shut down their competition-not allowing a single goal in the knockout stage-and thanks to Andres Iniesta's goal of a lifetime, Spain won the World Cup.
Spain looked to do something special at Euro 2012: win three major championships in a row. Spain was not as dominant as they were in the prior World Cup, but they were still solid and knew how to step their game up. Spain eliminated France, Portugal-once again not allowing a single goal in the knockout stage-and defeated Italy 4-0 in the final to win Euro 2012. Three major titles in a row for La Furia Roja.
We all knew Spain's reign would eventually come to an end, but no one saw this disaster that is Spain's 2014 World Cup campaign.
For me, while I am very disappointed that things have ended, I can't say that I couldn't imagine this. Let's be honest, Spain's style of play does not make for 5-0 Spain victories. Spain were going to have a tough time in this World Cup.
David Villa and Fernando Torres were Spain's one-two punch for scoring goals, especially in Aragonés' tenure. Unfortunately and rather stunningly, Torres has never been the same since he left Liverpool. David Villa was the firepower for Spain in South Africa in 2010. Over the past four years, Villa's game has naturally faded. But Spain never found a player like Villa to replace him at the nine position. In 2012, Cesc Fabregas replaced Villa in most of the games at Euro 2012 as a "False 9." It worked in the tournament, but the "False 9" was never going to work for Spain long-term. Without a true nine, Spain was destined to eventually fail.
Let me say that I feel bad for Diego Costa, the man that seemed like the best replacement for Villa in the national team. Costa obviously had a tough choice in choosing a national team. Costa chose Spain, and that decision-for now-has not worked out. In my opinion, Costa made the wrong choice. Not just because of the elimination, but because Spain's system doesn't fit Costa's strengths as a striker.
Through the elimination game against Chile:
Diego Costa: 126 minutes played, 5 shots attempted, 0 shots on target, 0 goals.
Costa is now essentially a villain in his own homeland of Brazil, as all Brazilians continue to let him have it whenever he touches the ball. I hope things get better for Costa on the national team in the future. But for now, Diego Costa is stuck.
This Spanish team missed Carles Puyol, in my opinion. Obviously, Father Time caught up to Puyi's career, but Spain currently doesn't have a player like Puyol on defense. Sergio Ramos is an excellent defender, but he's not Puyol, with all due respect. Let's not start with Gerard Pique.
Iker Casillas had a terrible World Cup. So many mistakes. I've always respected Iker Casillas, but I'm sorry, part of me thinks football karma got Iker. Why? Well...
"La Decima is so important, it's more so than the World Cup." - Iker Casillas, after winning the Champions League on May 25th.
Blasphemy! The Champions League is great, but winning a World Cup is the top of the sport, without a doubt. The football gods did not smile down upon Iker in Brazil, in fact, they were and still are probably laughing at him. For me, Iker is done with the national team. David De Gea is a solid goalkeeper, and would be my pick as the new full-time Spain goalkeeper. As far as Victor Valdes, we have to see how he comes back after his injury. While I'm at it, let's say goodbye to Pepe Reina with the national team. It's time for a change.
The one title I wish Spain had won was the Confederations Cup in 2009 or 2013. Spain lost to the United States 2-0 in the semis in '09, and was defeated by Brazil 3-0 in the final in 2013. I know it's not a major title, but still, it would have been nice to have won one during this golden Spanish era.
Like FC Barcelona, the era is over for the Spanish national team and old faces will be leaving the team. Xavi, Iker Casillas, Fernando Torres, David Villa, Xabi Alonso all need to retire from the national team. Players like Koke, Juan Mata, Thiago, Marc Bartra and others are the players of today. Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos should now be the elder statesmen of the team. With players like Real Madrid's Jesé and FC Barcelona's Gerard Deulofeu and other great young forwards coming up, this Spanish side will have the firepower for years to come.
We all know Barcelona players are/were the backbone of the Spanish team of the 2008-12 era: Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Pique and Puyol. Xavi's legs are not were they once were, and of course Puyol is retired.
I can't help but think about what I said during Spain's elimination:
Coincidence? I don't think so.
Like FC Barcelona, Spain will now look to start a new era with a new manager, as surely Vicente Del Bosque will retire. As I mentioned on Twitter immediately after Spain's loss, Roberto Martinez would be my choice to manage Spain. He's young(er), smart, fiery, and tough. But Martinez isn't going anywhere. He's got a good gig at Everton. Plus, Martinez is not a national team type of manager. He needs the constant work a league manager has on a daily/week/monthly basis. I'm sure the Real Federación Española de Fútbol will begin thinking about possible managers soon enough.
I am very disappointed how it all ended, but let me say this: I am very proud of the Spanish national team and everything they gave to Spain, their people, and all their fans. Personally, I am very proud of my family's heritage and I will always support España.
All good things must come to an end.
We recently witnessed the Fin de Ciclo of FC Barcelona (2008-14).
We now have witnessed the Fin de Ciclo of the Spanish national team (2008-14).
España: two European titles, one World Cup, and thousands of memories that will last a lifetime. Spain 2008-14 will forever be a dynasty; something national team football may never see again.
Now, let us welcome a new era. Vamos!