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Jun 18 2014

Spain vs Chile: “The Chilean Calamity”

 A disastrous performance from the reigning World and European Champions and a stunning show from the South Americans. The big talking point before the game was that Xavi and Pique were dropped in favour of Pedro and Javi Martinez. A Spain without Xavi? Let me put this into perspective: Xavi has played a full 90 minutes in all of Spains tournament winning matches in 2008, 2010 & 2012. I could not understand this move from Del Bosque. From the defeat to the Netherlands, Xavi was the least of his problems.

Vargas Celebrates his goal vs Spain

Within minutes of watching I knew Spain would lose this. The National anthems: not a single Spanish player sang, they looked like a disjointed side. Compare that to Chile, who stood tall and gave off the aura of a team united. Play commenced and Chile were superb! They were focused, organized and determined. Spain found it difficult to string together two passes – and this is the team that is known for passes. You could sense Xavi’s absence, sloppy play and no real midfield structure. A free kick opportunity was taken aimlessly by Xabi Alonso. Aimless is a good word to sum up his game. A little while later he had  a short range shot which he should have netted. The opening goal came from Vargas, after a superb play from Alexis Sanchez. Again, Spain’s defense was lacking. And Casillas.. well never mind.

The Spanish bumbled on for the rest of the half, trying to hold themselves together, but Chile were far too classy. Vidal was phenomenal. The Spanish did not have an answer to him.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Costa does not belong in this team! He was an absolute disaster. If this is Spain’s best hope for a striker then they have some serious problems. He may do well for Atletico Madrid and he may be a success at Chelsea, but he does not fit in with Spain’s style of play. It was only a matter of time before Chile scored again, and another show of horrid defensive play saw Charles Aranguiz put the South Americans 2 goals up just before halftime.

The Spanish came out in the second half and for a period put on a better show than they had this while tournament. One reason may be that Xabi Alonso was replaced with Koke. They still didn’t display the “killer instinct.”  Costa had two good chances at goal, which he should have done better with, and Busquets missed a sitter.

So what does Del Bosque then proceed to do? He brings on Torres. Like Gary Linekar Tweeted: “Torres is on. I suspect Del Bosque hasn’t been to Stamford Bridge lately.” Its yet another example of Del Bosque going for loyalty instead of logic. Needless to say, he didn’t have the desired impact. With 15 minutes left to play, Del Bosque brings on Santi Carzola, who of course did not have enough time to settle in let alone score 3 goals. A few chances from Carzola and Iniesta, but the Chile keeper Bravo was on top form. In the end, Spain’s performance was abysmal to say the least. In fact, the Socceroos put on a better fight than they did.  Chile outplayed the World Champions, they were the better sideFinal Score: Spain 0-2 Chile

My thoughts?

Not the attitude of World Champions

For a side that gave the World 6 glorious years, this was a humiliating way to defend their title. The sun must set on every golden era at some time, but not this way.  I feel that some decisions that were made were political more than anything else. If Pique and Xavi were cut, why wasn’t Casillas and Ramos dropped? When Diego Costa clearly did not work, why was he started in this game? What about the talent on the bench? Villa? Fabregas? We can look even further back to squad selection: Why were Llorente and Negredo not selected? The myth that Spain doesn’t not have enough strikers is one that comes from within their own camp. They have talent but are unwilling to nurture it. Its back to the drawing board for Del Bosque and Spain. It was also the players attitudes themselves, Casillas is supposed to be the leader, he looked dejected at all times. A captain is supposed to raise the morale of the team. Think back to Robin van Persie encouraging his Dutch team to come back against Spain. I can only speculate that there are things going on behind the scenes that we may never know of, but this was a side not united, not determined, not hungry for success and not motivated to win.

-P

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