Nearly 24 horas after SPAIN was eliminated by RUSSIA in the FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 the process of closer scrutiny, deeper evaluation & severe criticism has began doing the rounds locally with Sports Media at the helm. The main labour is to explain the reasons behind the Spanish Football Team extraordinary failure & vulnerability against "lesser" National Teams. Plus, added to this, the frustration of letting go of a unique opportunity given the path towards a Final seeing Spain was in a more hypothetically accesible line of match-ups. All the "bigger" names were on the other "wing" knocking themselves out. 

So what happened? What are the reasons for the Spanish National Teams debacle? Here are a few ideas that may help explain their elimination from the 2018 World Cup. 

  • Sacking of Selector & Coach Julen Lopetegui:  Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales made the drastic decision to fire (sack) Julen Lopetegui 2 days before the start of the World Cup competition. The announcement by Real Madrid that Lopetegui would be their new Coach apparently surprised President Rubiales who claims he was not informed. There has been a lot written since of the whys, the "rush of blood to the head" of Rubiales, the need to enforce order or other mysterious motives. The truth is that the decision of Rubiales left without head (the thinking head) the Spanish National Team. A terrible initial decision.

  • Current Coach Fernando Hierro: The man practically had no real choice, the up till then Football Director (a administrative role) was directly handed the "hot potato". Fernando Hierro had no experience, his only real Coach employment was with Second Division B Spanish Team Oviedo where he was sacked. He was also asistente to Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid for a year, but little more.

    Said this, Hierro did not choose the Spanish Squad nor have sufficient time to train them properly, fix & practice tactics or elaborate alternative game plays. He was "technically dead" from the start. Hierro was not able to lift the moral of the players or truly win over the "more loyal" to Lopetegui players. Its curious that Saul who voiced support for Lopetegui did not get minutes at all during the World Cup.

  • Lack of ideas, alternative plans & slow to react by Fernando Hierro: As a consequence of the above reason, Hierro was more a "statue" than a real Coach. Slow to react (with substitutions) to the circumstances, no alternative ideas when things got difficult & conservative in his thinking. This last point maybe explained as not being brave enough to risk, attack more when the only objetive for survival was to score. This point was brought to "life" when Hierro decides to bring on forward Rodrigo mid extra-time against Russia when this should have been done earlier around the 65th min mark.

  •  No goal: Spain has difficulty scoring goals & Diego Costa is not the answer. Spain broke a record during Russia with more than a 1000 passes, but what worth has this & ball domination if you cannot score goals.

  • Goalkeeper De Gea: Unfortunately for the Manchester United goalie he was not at his best. His mistakes & lack of confidence made contagious his "fear" to the rest of the Spanish defence. A note, De Gea received 12 goal opportunities of which 11 were goals. During the penalty shoot-out with Russia not one single attempt was stopped.

  • Too many defensive mistakes: The apparent two best central defenders in World Football Ramos & Pique were not at the level of the statement. Ramos was slow, Pique not fully concentrated as he made 2 penalties with childish mistakes that cost Spain the victories. Carvajal had come out of an injury & was not able to break defences with incursions & he was not 100%, & Busquets was left too alone in his defensive role. The solution was midfielder KOKE for equilibrium but here Coach Hierro inexperience made him put forward other options. Costly decision.

  • Low form of the "sacred cows": If De Gea & defenders Ramos, Pique & Carvajal were out of form, others like David Silva & Andres Iniesta were not firing on all cylinders. All were slow & mentally not fresh. Perhaps others more "hungry" with less name could have shown more grit.
  • Marco Asensio: the golden boy of Spanish Football received a "reality check". Perhaps the stage was "too big" , perhaps the pressure was overwhelming or simply the inexperience made a dent. Whatever he was disappointing.

  • Lack of alternative plans: Spain has a very visible & formed way of playing Football: touch & domination of the ball Football. However, the other teams have found the anecdote; allow Spain the ball & defend with 5 - 6 defenders & await mistakes to counter-attack Spain. With this habitual scenario Spain has not a "Plan B" or a "Plan C". The options of long balls to a central forward is another option, long shots from outside the box another response, less touch & more direct Football could be the answer.

    Spain has no longer players like Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso, Marcos Senna, David Villa, Carles Puyol etc to play & allow for effective results from the famous "Tiqui Taka".

  • The bench was limited: here the only person responsable was Lopetegui who made the final list. But it was later shown that Spain had a "weak" bench of substitutes. Said this many cannot understand why Saúl did not get a chance to play at all. Perhaps his comments in favour of Lopetegui is a reason.

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