Just a few months after the Spanish king abdicated, or renounced his power, the Spanish national team were set to take the stage at Brazil 2014.
In this World Cup, they seemingly abdicated their footballing power, and ended their reign on top of the Fifa pyramid. Spain came to the World Cup amongst the favorites to win the entire tournament, just as they did 4 years ago in South Africa. 16 of the 23 players who won that World Cup were amongst those in the camp in Brazil. With so much talent and experience, where did it all go wrong for La Furia Roja?
Spain lined up with Diego Costa up top for the World Cup, a player who was in a rich vein of form for Spanish Champions Athletico Madrid, and who scored freely in La Liga. He also carried an injury in to the tournament and was out of sync with his teammates from the very start. Costa does not play similarly to his Spanish teammates, he lines up on the shoulder of the last defenders and plays as a traditional #9 forward.
Spain wishes for their forwards to drop deep and collect the ball, similar to what Cesc Fabregas did at Euro 2012, and even if they are to rest on the last shoulder, they must possess. Costa did not look to possess the ball, he was too direct for Spain, which is fine, however if that is the case, he cannot play with the likes of Xavi and Iniesta who wish to hold the ball patiently.
Costa did not fit the Spanish schematic, and was out of sync throughout the tournament. But he was not alone, members of the old guard of Spain were out of sync as well. Xavi looked slow and out paced in his only appearance against Holland. He was not able to control the ball and the tempo of the game like the Xavi of old, and surely made his final appearances in a Spain jersey, having left Barcelona.
Xabi Alonso also looked out matched, he was the cause of 2 Chilean goals and struggled against Holland as well.
Finally, the back line, Pique, and Iker Casillias let Del Bosque down. They were shambolic against Holland, and were the cause of the loss, the worst ever suffered by a defending champions.
Sergio Ramos was not his best, and perhaps the lasting image for Spain's tournament was him being outpaced by Arjen Robben. Ramos, unlike the others will be back though, as he is still amongst the best players on Spain.
I would be surprised to see Casillas wear the red jersey again, it is time for Spain to move on, and a direct replacement is waiting in the wings in David de Gea. Spain also have young talent who can carry them through in other positions as well.
Iniesta and Busquets will be there for years to come, and with Koke, Silva, Mata, and Fabregas there as well, Spain's future may well be bright. They will have to put this miserable tournament behind them, and look for success at Euro 2016.
In Euro 2016, expect a different looking side, younger, and more attacking. With the passing of the torch by Xavi and Xabi Alonso, tiki-taka may take a back seat, for more attacking, and free flowing football. It will be exciting to see if Spain can bounce back from such an horrific tournament in Brazil.