After the departures of Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Thibaut Courtois to Chelsea, plenty are saying Atletico Madrid won't retain their title. Tim Stannard thinks otherwise...
Both Cesc Fabregas and Barcelona must have regrets about his three-year spell at the Nou Camp; Barca never quite gave him the chance to play in midfield...
When it was time to head back to the team hotel after the debacle of the defeat to Chile, Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque apparently made the error of trying to board the coach of the conquering South American opponents.
'Apparently' is the word used in this context, as there must be a suspicion that Del Bosque was deliberately looking for a prison break, fully aware of the nature of the vitriol that was already heading west from the media and general boorish bloke-in-a-bar back home.
That criticism was fast and brutal in its arrival through the Brazilian airspace with even Del Bosque himself admitting to Spanish TV station, Cuatro, that some of it was most hurtful. "When I see on a Madrid website, or a website related to Madrid , that I am a puppet in the hands of the Barça players, that hurts me," said Del Bosque.
That accusation towards La Roja was just one of many theories to come pouring through as the reason for Spain's awful showing. The most popular theory was confirmed by Xabi Alonso, who admitted that the team was not physically and mentally ready for the World Cup and lacked hunger. It was this second comment that caused a bit of an uproar, even amidst the Spain camp, forcing the Real Madrid midfielder to backtrack by qualifying that it was competitive intensity which was missing.
The Spanish have gone through the usual motions of deciding who should be kicked out of the camp and never play for the country again, mimicking England's response. Nearly a quarter of a million voted in Marca's online survey and opined that Iker Casillas, Pepe Reina, Raúl Albiol, Juanfran, Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernández, David Villa, Diego Costa and Fernando Torres should be sent into exile, along with the manager for good measure.
There was a little more hope for the future in AS with a poll on who should replace the fallen. Those results show why the Spanish should not get too downhearted as footballers with the quality and promise of Dani Carvajal, Jesé, Isco and Thiago Alcántara were listed as the new breed. Not a bad bunch really, considering players such as Pedro and David Silva are not exactly past their prime.
Of course, all this looking to the future does nothing to help Spain in the present, which is a rotten place to be. The wait for the Australia match was never ending. The weekend press was stuffed with a story over a tiff between Del Bosque and Cesc Fabregas, with the manager removing a bib from the Chelsea man, supposedly for being unenthusiastic in training. The battle reflected the cracks in a bedeviled and bewildered camp. "I think only about them, they only think about themselves," said Del Bosque in a rare critique over the attitude of his charges.
Monday's match against Australia could be an awful affair with the world champions. Rather than it being a return to form and a send-off for all the supporters that travelled across the Atlantic, the game could be a real low point for Del Bosque. The Spanish will be hoping that all the fight has gone out of an Australia outfit that fought so valiantly against Chile and the Netherlands, in a manner quite unlike the team's opponents on Monday evening.
The alternative is the Spanish manager finally succeeding in his mission after the clash. Not just getting on the Australian team bus, but the plane home Down Under. There may be one or two of his footballers following in his wake.
Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter
@ronmanger Just wanted to echo the sentiments you have expressed there, those spanish players owe nobody anything and the reaction to their elimination has been disgusting, everything runs it's course and these players simply had nothing left to give, the vast majority have been competing virtually non stop at the the very highest levels for club and country for the guts of a decade (more in some cases). The people who have spent the last week basking in their downfall and passing snide comments may realise some day that they have belittlled arguably the greatest international team of all time and everybody else loses now and then as well, alas I fear not, they will be too busy throwing s*** at a wall or something equally productive cos that's what everybody else is doing so, you know, they have to as well. I digress, all that's left for me is to thank Xavi, Casillas and Co for the memories.....well played good sirs.- frakessmee