RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Spain’s players had different explanations for the team’s early World Cup exit.
Captain Iker Casillas said there was lack of commitment, midfielder Xabi Alonso thought there wasn’t enough hunger. According to Fernando Torres, Spain was “just not good enough.”
Chile’s 2-0 victory on Wednesday meant the 2010 World Cup champion is the first title holder to exit after just two games following the opening 5-1 loss to the Netherlands.
Spain’s squad of 23 players featured 16 who were part of its World Cup success in South Africa. Casillas, Alonso and Xavi Hernandez had been the engine behind the team’s triumphs on the world stage, but were left exposed in Brazil.
“We didn’t know how to maintain our hunger or that conviction needed to win a tournament. The joy and success we’ve experienced is over,” Alonso said from the Maracana stadium. “We lost our knowhow, which has helped us win so many of these important games. It doesn’t feel like our other tournaments.”
Spain’s players agreed that they did not read their opponents well, or know when to clamp down and control the games through keeping possession as it has been known to do.
“The commitment wasn’t there,” said Casillas, who owned up to perhaps his two worst performances in 156 appearances for Spain. “From the very first moment everything went awry.”
Alonso, who along with Casillas and Xavi may have seen their international careers come to an end, said Spain was not mentally prepared for Brazil, while the team’s physical state was not at its peak either.
“Normally cycles come to an end after a defeat. Maybe it would be best to think about making changes,” Alonso said.
Torres did not want to jump that far ahead, as the Spain striker put a positive spin on the collapse, even suggesting he would not have changed a thing.
“We went down playing our style. It’s what got us here and we’re going to maintain it,” Torres said. “We didn’t do anything different than what we did in South Africa or in the two Euros we won. We came here with the same mentality and approached games in the same way.
“Those times we won, this time we lost.”
Spain’s demise was more made glaring by coach Vicente del Bosque’s decision to stick with an aging group of players that had already won everything in international and club football.
“We thought we were in good shape, it was tough to even choose the 11 players that would line up, but the reality was quite different,” Del Bosque said. “The second half against Holland and the first half against Chile were like a weight crashing down on us.”
Del Bosque said the post-mortem would include deciding on his own future despite being signed up to lead Spain’s bid to win a third straight European Championship title in 2016.
Spain wraps up its worst World Cup since France ’98 on Monday in the Group B finale against Australia in the southern city of Curitiba.
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