Spain entered the 2014 FIFA World Cup with high expectations as defending World Cup champions. Nine days later, Spain was eliminated after falling to Chile 2-0.
Perhaps the most shocking thing about Spain’s early exit is that they were outscored 7-1 in two matches, with one more match against Australia, who were also eliminated from the World Cup with Chile’s win, remaining.
And so, this marks the end of one era and the beginning of another. Spain’s tiki-taka style of moving the ball down the field with precise, well-timed passes, which Spain used to dominate at the last World Cup in 2010 on their way to their first-ever FIFA World Cup Championship, was rendered ineffective in Brazil.
The Netherlands and Chile both applied a great deal of pressure to the Spanish and disrupted their rhythm which did not allow them to connect with their passes. After being exposed and beaten soundly 5-1 by the Netherlands, Spain was once again unable to execute the tiki-taka to its full against Chile, which resulted in a 2-0 loss to the Chileans.
Now that Spain has been dethroned as the kings of the soccer world, the question remains: Is this the end of an era?
In a word: Yes.
After winning back-to-back European Championships in 2008 and 2012 with a FIFA World Cup championship in 2010 sandwiched in between, Spain’s run came to an end this afternoon at the Marcanã.
What also came to an end at the World Cup was the traditional tiki-taka style of play that Spain has been known for. It was first exposed in the semifinals of the UEFA Championship when Bayern Munich throttled FC Barcelona, who played with the tiki-taka style, 7-1 on aggregate and was exposed even further in Spain’s two World Cup matches.
Is it time to completely do away with the tiki-taka? Not necessarily. It is, however, time to change it so that it can once again be effective.
For example, having a bit less of a “pass first” mentality when approaching the 18-yard box and thinking “shot” a bit more can make a noticeable difference. That’s not to say that it’s bad to pass when approaching the opponent’s goal by any means, but if the shot’s there, it might not hurt to take it.
There were many times against Chile where the shots were there, but Spain opted to pass instead.
As Spain prepares to head home from the World Cup, far earlier than they expected, many wonder if the era of Spanish dominance is over. While these next couple of years will be a transition for Spanish soccer, Spain’s dominance will not be lost. One thing is for sure, it will be interesting to see at Euro 2016 if the team known as La Furia Roja (“The Red Fury”) will have gotten some of that fury back.
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