From Ground Zero: Bye Bye, Tiki-Taka
Zee Media Bureau/Shobhan Saxena from Rio de Janeiro
European Champion in 2008 and again in 2012. World Champion in 2010. For many, one of the best teams in football history, innovator and owner of unique style. Now, one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history. On Wednesday, Spain fell at the Maracana to Chile 2-0 and was eliminated in the first round of the World Cup. It just collapsed after first two rounds of group games.
This is the end of an era. This is the end of tiki-taka, the technique Spain used to win two European and one world titles.
Now, Spain will play Australia, just to avoid finishing last in Group B. Today’s defeat was shame. The faces of the Spaniards when they heard the final whistle had shame written over it. Officially, this is the end of the Spanish era. The football world will have a new champion in 25 days and Spain will be nowhere near the title. They will be flying home in a day or two.
In this do-or-die game for Spain, the South Americans took the field with three points; while the Europeans with zero. While Chile was pacy and ambitious, Spain just did not know how to play any other way besides the tiki-taka.
When Sánchez Vargas scored the first goal and Aránguiz scored the second one, Spanish keeper and captain Casillas was totally at loss. Nothing worked for Spain today. Their defence was pathetic. Their strikers didn’t move and the mid-field failed to click as well. But the worst was Diego Costa. He only played two games with the Spanish shirt after all the controversy if he would play for Brazil or the European team. He did not score and was replaced by Fernando Torres in both the games when the team needed goals.
Though Xavi, the main proponent of the tiki-taka style didn’t take the field today, the Spanish played in the style they have been for years. Before the World Cup, Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque did not know how to train his players in a way other than what has worked for them in the past six years.
Though there were a few thousand Spanish supporters in the stadium, the Chileans had much larger presence. Maracana was painted red by Chileans fans who screamed all the time as if their team was playing at home. During the singing of national anthem, as in the first round in Cuiabá, sang the whole song along with the players even after the music stopped. After Chile scored the first goal, the cries of "ole, ole" emerged from the stands to help Chile put Spain on the mat.
As the Brazilian crowd was smaller at Maracana, Diego Costa did not suffer as much as he did in the opening game at Salvador. However, when substitutes in the second half, he was booed again. With the Spanish team making an early exit, there will be questions asked about his decision to play for Spain and not Brazil.
The Maracanã has not been lucky for Spain. In the 1950 world cup, Spain lost 1-6 to Brazil. In 2013 Confederations Cup final, they lost to Brazil 0-3. Now, they have been eliminated from the world cup.
Earlier in the day, in a thrilling match, the Netherlands defeated Australia by 3-2 in the opening of the second round of Group B. The game was played at the Beira-Rio stadium in Porto Alegre.
The Netherlands took the lead after 19 minutes in the first half, with Robben slamming one home from close range. But the next minute, Tim Cahill tied the game with a fantastic volley. In the second half, the Australians turned in one more in a penalty kick by Jedinak. But Van Persie and Depay slammed one goal each to seal their victory and move into the second round. With the result, the Dutch took the lead in Group B with six points. Australia and Spain remain at the last position without scoring.
From this group, Chile and Holland are certain to move to the next group, while Spain and Australia go home.