With one group match left to play, La Roja are out of the tournament after losing to Chile 2-0. In both matches, the reigning champions were unattractive in their football and undeniably lost in the defense. So what now for Spain?
Many now question the style of play the Spanish employ on the field. F.C. Barcelona were criticized for playing possession football after a season without trophies. And it seems that Spain are falling under the same boat.
But fans around the world must realize that the same style we are laughing at is the same style La Furia Roja dominated internationally for six years. Possession football won them the Euro Cup 2008, World Cup 2010, and Euro Cup 2012. This is not the end of tiki-taka. It is merely the end of a golden generation that delivered beauty and intelligence to those watching either on the TV or at the stadium. Carles Puyol has retired. Xavi Hernandez is 34 years of age and no longer plays at the pace he did in 2008. Andres Iniesta is nearing the end of his prime. And David Villa is not the prolific striker that made him Spain’s historic top scorer. Iker Casillas, Xabi Alonso, and David Silva have enjoyed the best of their game.
Maybe it is time to make room for an upcoming generation thirsty for glory. Marc Bartra demonstrated that he is the future center-back for Barcelona and possibly for Spain. Real Madrid have Isco Alacron that offers great touch on the ball. Koke from Atletico Madrid is 22 years old. He can offer a more direct style that he grew accustomed to under Diego Simeone. Juan Mata, Martin Montoya, Asier Illarmendi, and talent after talent are future prospects of the Spanish game.
This is not about a revolution, but an evolution. Teams have figured out how to play against tiki-taka. We saw it against Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the club level. And we witnessed it at the international level. Some will play 11 players on defense and counter; some will press and counter. Either way, the Spanish need to add variety to their beautiful game.
Although fans recognize a bit of change is needed, we do not know if this will come from Vicente del Bosque or another manager. Del Bosque relished in La Roja’s golden years in two different competitions. Despite the memories he has given the Spanish players and fans, I believe it is time for him to step down. He should give another tactician an opportunity to manage the great talents the country of Spain has to offer. We do not know who is willing to take throne. However, a mind with an outside point of view can benefit the future of its football nation.
Who knows? It is possible that as Roberto Martinez commentates and analyzes games on ESPN, he may very well be analyzing his chances of leading a nation of talent. Nevertheless, the world will be focusing on the 2014 World Cup, while awaiting the decisions of the Spanish national team.