Spain v Chile reaction: Attention turns to the rebuilding job that lies ahead for Spain

The reaction in Spain following their exit from the World Cup

There was a certain symmetry to Spain’s two big news stories on Wednesday as Juan Carlos I’s abdication as king was swiftly followed by the national football team losing their crown as the world’s best after suffering a shock early exit from the World Cup.

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Juan Carlos formally abdicated yesterday and his son Felipe VI will be sworn in as the country's head of state in parliament on Thursday. Both will have hoped for a better mood around the country today but Spain’s 2-0 defeat against Chile at the Maracaná on Wednesday night brought the curtain down on arguably the greatest spell of international dominance the world has seen.

Such was the importance of the match that the outgoing king and Spain’s president, Mariano Rajoy, brought it to discussion at an event in the Spanish capital on Tuesday, although it was not meant for public ears. "We have the game against Chile sorted," Rajoy joked with Juan Carlos. "How much has it cost us?” was the reply. With the knowledge that the gathered press had already caught on to the conversation Rajoy replied "nothing, nothing.”

 

The mood in Spain on Thursday morning was that two reigns had come to an end. One, Juan Carlos’s, had lasted 39 years, the other, La Roja’s, had lasted six and brought two European Championships and one World Cup. “The End” was the simple front-page headline for Marca, “A sorry end to the most glorious era of La Roja”. The picture of a lonely Andres Iniesta strolling along the Maracaná pitch with his head in his hands.

“Goodbye to the golden years” continued Marca on its inside pages. Iniesta, sporting a dejected figure on the front, had been central to those golden years and there is a sense now in Spain that there will be a changing of the guard in the national squad given its latest failure. “And what now?”. Marca continued asking the question, thankful for the recent success but wary of what now lies ahead. Players such as Xabi Alonso, Iker Casillas and Xavi may all have played in their last World Cup Finals. Spain will look to players such as Koke, who made his World Cup bow last night, to replace its ageing heroes.

 

“It was nice while it lasted”, said AS, who again chose a dejected Iniesta, this time alongside Casillas, for the front page picture. Pictures of Casillas lifting the last three major international trophies offered a sense of pride amongst the Spanish press and people and a desire for a return to those heights after a nightmare tournament in Brazil.

“Goodbye, Spain,” AS continued in inside. “La Roja is Chile” as credit was duly given to the qualities of the South Americans. While the future of certain Spanish players was up in the air, the future of manager Vicente Del Bosque is too. AS journalist Juan Cruz dedicated a page to the former Real Madrid boss, who guided Spain “to the very top of the world”. The 63-year-old has hinted that the Spanish national job will be his last in football.

Both AS and Marca said Spain were “unrecognisable” in their defeat following six all-conquering years. “Eliminated for the first time after the second game,” Marca continued. “The squad lost all the hallmarks that got them to Brazil”. The analysis of Enrique Ortego in Marca was cutting, with the headline “A vulgar farewell, without play and without soul.”

El Pais compared Spain to the sinking Titanic, saying “La Roja need a fine and accurate analysis when the commotion has passed”. They also questioned Del Bosque’s decision to keep playmaker Xavi on the bench from the start, saying “so sad that Xavi watched the game from the bench”. Diego Costa, who missed a number of chances on the night, was pictured leading his crestfallen teammates off the pitch as Spain became just the second nation to exit the tournament after Australia’s slender defeat against the Netherlands.

Spain is hurting this morning after six years or glory and the reaction has been damning. There’s a sense of being thankful for the recent glory years but there’s also a knowledge that rebuilding needs to take place and when the dust has settled on La Roja’s nightmare campaign in Brazil that rebuilding will begin.

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