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Spain 0 Chile 2: 'This was an era-ending defeat,' admits Xabi Alonso

The holders exited at the group stage after the loss

By the time the Spanish players emerged from the Maracana dressing room, there was no anger, no blame.

There was only sadness, that something genuinely special had ended. Most found it too difficult to talk.

Xabi Alonso tried but ultimately found it difficult to explain. There was a quietness to his voice that reflected a profound deflation, as well as an inability to yet register what had happened.

“It’s a completely unexpected failure,” Alonso simply said. At the same time, he did touch on something that had been flagged, that may be the root cause of so many other reasons. He pointed to an unavoidable loss of “hunger”.

That consequent loss of “know-how” led to this special Spanish generation also knowing true failure for the first time. After six years and a record three major trophies, they become the fifth defending world champions to go out at the group stage following this decisive 2-0 defeat to Chile. Moreover, the urgency of the South American side only further emphasised their remarkable drop in intensity.


“I believe that we haven’t been able to maintain the same levels of conviction, of hunger. The success, the happiness of before, is gone. It’s run out and we haven’t been able to keep it going.

“We’ve made lots of mistakes. We’ve lost a bit of our know-how, and we’ve paid for it with our solidity that had helped us win so many games.

“We’ve not been able to keep the same levels of ambition and hunger, perhaps the real conviction to go for the championship.”

Instead, Spain are going home from that championship. They are accompanied by so many questions and doubts, from the selection decisions of Vicente Del Bosque to the potential retirement of so many legends.

For the moment, none of that matters. Only one fact does.

“Eras end with defeats,” Alonso said. “And this was a painful defeat.”