So that’s that, Spain’s dynasty lasts from 2008 to 2014. Not bad. Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to Chile was a sorry way to mark the end though. This was an almighty flameout by the Spaniards, smashed by the Dutch and out-footballed by the Chileans.
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Here are some thoughts on the death of tika-taka:
• Tika-taka isn’t dead. So far counter-attacking football has wowed in this World Cup, but that doesn’t mean possession-orientated footy is going out of style. It may well have something to say for itself before all is said and done.
• Xavi’s absence from Wednesday’s festivities symbolized the end of an era. When I think of Spain’s glory years, he is the man I envision. I have had to defend Spain over the last couple of days; some of my co-workers have been critical of the Spanish approach over the years. Sure, they didn’t score many goals, but watching Xavi control the pace of the game, spraying passes into enormous voids of space that weren’t there when the ball left his boot, has been entrancing. Please Xavi, don’t go off to retire in the Middle East where we can’t watch you.
• As much as the attack was awful in Brazil, it’s at the back where we saw the wheels fall off. Spain has conceded more goals in Brazil than it did in the last three tournaments combined. Over the last six years we have seen the team evolve, defensive standouts such as Puyol, Marchena and Senna have all come and gone, yet for some reason it all fell apart in Brazil. Iker Casillas has been the one constant and he was poor, really poor. Gerard Pique was at one point considered among the best centrebacks in the world, but he was dropped. Pique is young enough that he’ll be back — he can use Shakira as his rehab — and will remain a central figure for Spain going forward.
• This is not the end of Spain. The kids are alright, it’s just difficult to say goodbye to the group that got the country where it is. Xavi, Fernando Torres, David Villa, Vincente del Bosque: thanks for the memories.