Posted on June 30, 2016. Filed under: FOOTBALL, EURO 2016 | Tags: , , , , , , |

The defeat of Spain by Holland in the opening match of the FIFA World Cup, 2014 showed to the world the end of the golden era of Spanish football when Vicente Del Bosque and his players toyed with all kinds of opposition. The margin of win for the Dutch was 5-1 and it was not just a trashing but mauling. That day there was no Tiki Taka and most of the fans of La Roja were desperate to hear the final whistle for the carnage to stop. The Spanish could not recover from that defeat and had to make an early exit from the tournament and relinquish their hold on the World Cup.

A couple of days ago the Spanish took on the might of Italy in the last sixteen round of the ongoing EURO 2016. The Spanish suffered a surprise defeat in the previous match at the hands of Croatia. But very few expected to see the painful end of the Spanish progress in the next match at the hands of Italy.

The finals of EURO 2012 played in Kiev features Spain and Italy. The two teams are as different as chalk is from cheese when it comes to the playing style and the strategy. The Spaniards rarely appear to physically overpower their opponents which is something that the Italians are known for. Even when defending Spain did not look ugly. The ball was an object that was completely under the spell of the Spanish team as if a magic spell was cast. The Italians looked laboured with pass after pass eluding them and in the end, they lost by a margin of 0-4 something that is extremely rare in the finals of a major tournament.

Coming back to 2016, there was a different story with the Italians having the last laugh. Initially, the rain was thought to affect the ball skills of the Spanish, but as the rains stopped, there was not much improvement. The Italians came well prepared and there were very few opportunities for the Spanish. Andres Iniesta for long has been regarded as the conductor of the Spanish orchestra and in this encounter there was very little he could do. All his passes were intercepted and the Italians somehow seemed to anticipate all his moves.

When one considers the statistics relating to ball possession, there was very little to separate the two teams but there was purpose behind the Italian possession while the Spaniards appeared to look confused and lost. The Italians won by a margin of 2-0 and without the sterling show of the Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea, the margin would have been a lot higher and more embarrassing for his team.

It was sad the witness the end of an era in world football. It was painful to see Andres Iniesta, the architect of so many wins-including the finals of FIFA World Cup, 2010 look jaded and past his prime. The faces of the Spanish revealed a lot. Many from the current squad may have donned the national colours for the last time.

A wise man once said, ‘what goes up must come down’ and so have things gone the full circle for the La Roja. It will take a lot of time and some incredible talent to put Spain once again on the top.

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