By Fred Kaweesi in Rio de Janeiro
When Spain suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat at the hands of Netherlands in their first game, a majority of the Spanish fans here chose to consider the result an unlucky blip.
There was a weak argument that Spain had still lost their first World Cup game in 2010, 1-0 to Switzerland, but still gone on to win the tournament.
It explains why the Spanish were in full voice ahead of their fixture against Chile at the Maracana Stadium only to be reminded of a harsh reality they had chosen to ignore earlier.
That their side’s tiki-taka approach to the game had become vulnerable.
“I think, we need to change the way we play. We need a new manager and the team needs to take a new direction,” one Spanish fan Abella Ricardo told New Vision after the 2-0 humbling defeat to Chile.
"Goodbye Spain", reads this excited fan's placard. PHOTO/AFP
A Chilean fan gestures in the streets of Santiago, while watching Chile beat defending champions Spain 2-0 on Wednesday. PHOTO/AFP
The phrase “end of an era” is wildly overused, but surely it fits here. For most of the past decade, the Spanish national team has been the most fascinating side in world football, but not only have we seen the end of their dominance, we have also seen the end of their competence.
There will be major changes. Spain still has many, many extremely gifted young players coming through their structures.
But on the evidence of his rattled look at the post-match press conference, I also suspect this will be the end of Vincent del Bosque’s remarkable run as national team manager.
It is very interesting to see how the Spanish Football Federation deals with the current crisis, whether the association second a change in approach from the fading tiki-taka style ruthlessly exposed by both the Dutch and Chileans.
Perhaps Alexis Sanchez, a student at one of the tiki-taka institutions at Barcelona, could offer an insight as to how he exposed his own institution.
Alexis run the show at will and was involved in both goals that Vargas and Aranguiz scored.
As good as Chile were, Spain were woeful, with their usually reliable midfielders giving the ball away far too easily under pressure from Chile’s high-tempo pressing.
Chile's midfielder Arturo Vidal (2nd-R) and Spain's defender Sergio Ramos vie during the tie. PHOTO/AFP
Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas (R) and midfielder Andres Iniesta walk off the pitch after being beaten by Chile. PHOTO/AFP
When Bayern Munich thrashed Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the 2013 Champions League semi-final, there was debate as to whether the Spanish tiki-taka style of endless short passing was on the wane.
What is certain for sure, is that it is indeed dead.
And this might as well explain why Barcelona have continued to have a terrible 2013/2014 season.
Of course, it would be foolish to rubbish Spanish football but the 2010 World Cup winners clearly need to review their adored playing style but most significantly their defensive structure.
Ever since Carlos Puyol retired, the Spanish defense has been a cause of major concern.
Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique are not tailor-made as a defensive pair while goalkeeper Iker Casillas, the team’s longtime 33-year-old captain, must consider retirement.