Chile delivers the final nail as Spain says goodbye to FIFA World Cup 2014
Spain 0 – 2 Chile
Among the many things that happened after the Spanish defeat at the hands of Chile was the realisation that the aura Spain had was gone, completely. Teams have by now understood the Spanish tactics and their style to the very core. Chile scored twice and Spain were not able to respond or should we say, did not convert very little that they created. A damning statement for a team known for creativity.
Chile were too hot to handle
All the eyes and sentiments were focused on the team that has given so much joy to football world in last 6 years, Spain. Chile on the other hand were focused and their incredible supporters, who literally made it a home fixture, in the Maracana encouraged them to have a go at the world champions. They did not disappoint.
Chile played a very high tempo game and sustained it for the full 90 minutes. Chilean players left everything thing they had on the pitch and gave it all. This is the kind of performance that will endear them to all neutrals world wide. It was more like an English Premier League game, in terms of tempo. In hot and humid conditions that was commendable effort and worthy of the reward in the end, knocking the world champions out.
Chilean players pressed Spanish team high and put them on pressure every time. Players like Alonso and Ineista who are revered for their excellent technical play in tight situations were hurried and put under pressure. The forwards were coming in the midfield and also pressing the defenders and cutting down space and angles. Time and again Vargas and Sanchez got up from a fall and pressed and created pressure on the Spanish players.
Defended as a team
Midfielders were willing runners and they were making runs at the Spanish defence regularly and creating confusion in their ranks. They defended as a unit and were fighting for each other. It was complete team like performance. Gary Medel (nicknamed Pitbull)looked calm and composed at the heart of the defence. He was struggling with cramps and knocks in the later stages but it is very clear his composure and game reading has improved further after one English Premier League season with relegated Cardiff City.
More pain and no gain for Spain
There have been negative voices in the fans and media about Vicente Del Bosque being a good man manager but an average football coach. He managed the galacticos at the great Real Madrid side that had Zidane, Beckham, Ronaldo, Figo and Carlos. The list does not stop and he has delivered last 3 major tournaments ( 2 European and 1 world cup) that Spain had entered.
Del Bosque benched Xavi and Pique for this all important game. He brought in Javi Martinez and Pedro. Pedro has the ability to make life uncomfortable for the opposition with his timely runs. Manager had to find some playing time for Fabregas, Villa, Cazorla and dropping Xavi was a decision he might be regretting now. Hindsight is great. On the arsenal midfielder was given a run in after 74 minutes but by then the Spanish team was down and out. Goalkeeping was a let down last game and after this performance Iker Casillas might have played his last international game
It wasn’t the case that Spain did not have the chances in the two games they have lost. Against Holland as well, if Silva had taken his chance Spain would have been 2-0 up and it becomes a different game. He missed and rest is history. Diego Costa had a golden opportunity but he missed it. A striker who has impressed so much this season looked out of sorts and took a fatal touch to a ball he should have hit first time across goalkeeper Bravo, towards his right and goalkeeper’s left.
Busquets had an even better opportunity when he missed. The goal was gaping at his mercy and even though he is such a technically gifted player he panicked and missed an open goal. Pressure does play a part in these situations and there is no doubt, after the Holland debacle, the Spanish players were under immense pressure.
Ex Liverpool and now Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso had a stinker. He was clumsy in possession and was the culprit in the first goal. He gave the ball away near his final third to Sanchez and the resulting attack was finished calmly but expertly by Vargas and earned Aranguiz his assist. A player like Alonso, who prides himself on his technical ability to hold the ball and pass in tight situations, will be gutted to say the least after this performance.
Iker Casillas was lucky to be selected after his horror show against Spain but Spanish defence wasn’t. He palmed a Sanchez free kick, looked easy to catch, straight into the danger area right in front of the goal and at the feet of Aranguiz. He made no mistake in depositing it past the helpless keeper. Iker was a selection that raised eyebrows from the start. He had not been his club regular last season and has just played in cup games. Mind you he is not the only goalkeeper in this world cup who had lesser game time last season. Brazil and Argentina have the similar situation with their goalies.
Spanish team looked tired, did not combine well and like last game missed their chances. It can all be for multiple reasons and Spanish LaLiga season finishing late can be one of them. Tired bodies and mind is not a good recipe to defend FIFA World Cups.
Spain still have one game to play against Australia, who qualified through the Asian qualifiers. If not for their own pride these Spanish players have to give the best account of themselves for the legacy they are leaving. This Spanish team gave us great memories and those memories will be cherished. Please for God sake, do not go out on a whimper. Even though this campaign has already turned into one.
As for Chile, they look a tasty team and can go a very long way in this competition. Orange army next for them and decider on who misses Brazil in the next round.