Real Madrid, David de Gea, Fernando Hierro, Gerard Pique – the targets in Spain’s blame game are numerous and Paco Polit is taking names and kicking ass
It’s a few days later and now the dust has settled down we’re able to properly observe the scope of such a disaster. Spain is no more, the Spanish team is out of the tournament and fans should be incredibly angry due to the way things happened.
Because losing is one thing…but avoiding even the slightest desire to win is a completely different animal, much more infuriating for any aficionado.
Spain were deservedly knocked out of the World Cup because they didn’t know any better. They didn’t show the desire, consistency, style, the hunger or the flexibility to keep on going. A 1-1 draw over 120 minutes and a bad day at the penalty shootout office. Now they will have to see the remaining games on TV.
One of the biggest issues with the Spanish media nowadays lies in blatant bias when talking about affairs that involve Real Madrid either directly or tangentially. Such is the power and influence of Florentino Pérez, president of Los Blancos, that from day one it was clear that Julen Lopetegui’s sacking (after surreptitiously signing for Real and announcing it two days before the World Cup began) would trigger a spectacular amount of criticism coming from sell-out media outlets.
And everyone and their dog knew that all those harsh comments would be pointed at Jose Luis Rubiales, the Federation’s president, for his decision to fire the coach after his agreement with Real was made public and appointing Fernando Hierro to replace him.
Surprise, surprise: that’s exactly what has happened after the knock-out.
While players such as Rodrigo Moreno wept on the pitch, poor De Gea watched haplessly as Akifeev had managed to stop a couple of penalties while the Spanish keeper had only made a single save in the whole tournament (don’t believe me? Check the stats).
The game was awful from a style point of view: The Spanish were a shadow of their former selves. They had ball possession…and that’s pretty much it. No depth, no attacking pattern, no creativity or ideas. The game was dull, so it deserved a dull winner. Never would have Russia dreamed of being a quarter-finalist with such a poor showcase of football.
Criticism is quite an unfair concept. Iago Aspas and Koke were given a rough time for missing their shots, but they were the ones to take them. Isco has been accused of slowing down Spain’s pace in the game due to his fondness of dribbling the ball and not taking on any defenders, but again, he was one of the few highlights of the game.
Only some shots fired towards coach Fernando Hierro seem level-headed and decent: for instance, his subs weren’t as quick or as accurate as required. Rodrigo Moreno playing only fifteen minutes is disgraceful, put plain and simple. He actually made the most of his small chance to shine: he was the player with most shots on target in the whole game (2).
All in all, a not-that-smart penalty give-away by Gerard Piqué, Spain’s lack of attitude, Russia’s proficient defending, an absence of ideas on the bench and lacking a ‘mythical-like’ keeper in the penalty shootout (remember Casillas’ top-notch saves in quite a few close games years back) and there you have it: one of the most remarkable national teams got sent home with the feeling of never taking advantage of the huge box of tools at their disposal.
What’s the next step, then? We all know, for example, that Real Madrid’s plan went on smoothly and now they have Lopetegui on their bench with his rep unscathed football-wise. Does anyone honestly think Lopetegui would have signed a deal with Real *after* being KOed unceremoniously in the World Cup, but with a huge blow to his relationship with non-Real fans who support the national team and won’t forget easily his traitorous move? Expect quite a huge deal of whistling and booing this season in many La Liga grounds.
However, they key decision which will factor in the imminent future will be the picking of a new manager for Spain. Rubiales has already come down to three names: Míchel González, Quique Sánchez Flores or Luis Enrique, though we shouldn’t take another outsider candidate off the cards. The Federation president will hold a board meeting on July 9th: sources report it’s expected that he will have made up his mind at that point.