Spain World Cup 2014: What now for likes of Iker Casillas and Xavi?
After exit from the World Cup, this might be the end of the road for many of Spain's golden generation
Thursday 19 June 2014
"This team has defined an era and achieved things no-one else has in history, but in football you cannot live in the past," said Sergio Ramos after world and European champions Spain were sent packing from Brazil following a disastrous and fatal start to the World Cup.
Sixteen players in Vicente Del Bosque's squad in Brazil were part of the squad that lifted the trophy in South Africa, and there is now a clamour for the team that won everything to be given a makeover.
Here, we take a look at what could be next for Spain's Golden Generation.
The captain made errors for four of the seven goals Spain have conceded in Brazil and much of the criticism has fallen at his door. At 32 the Real Madrid man could feasibly continue in the Spain goal, but if a new coach comes in, Casillas' days could be numbered, especially while he is not the number one goalkeeper for his club. Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, at just 23 years old, is his natural successor.
The Chelsea full-back was making his first appearance at a major tournament and did not cover himself in glory with his performances. Atletico Madrid's Juanfran will surely provide competition, while 22-year-old Dani Carvajal, currently Real Madrid's first-choice at right-back, is a long term option.
The Real Madrid man enjoyed one of his best seasons with his club but endured a torrid time in both of Spain's games in the World Cup, left exposed by a lethargic midfield. For now his place in the team is not under immediate threat, but if his international performances do not improve, promising youngsters such as Real Sociedad's Inigo Martinez will be waiting in the wings.
One of the revelations of Euro 2012, Alba offered none of his attacking dynamism in Brazil and was susceptible at the back. He has shouldered a large part of the blame from the Spanish media, and will have to watch his back, with Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno, who has already made his Spain debut, snapping at his heels.
Xabi Alonso in action during the defeat
The former Liverpool midfielder was off the pace in both games, his penalty against Holland his only positive contribution. The 32-year-old has said he will make a decision on his international future after the tournament but his poor displays in Brazil may convince him to bring his retirement from international football forward. Javi Martinez and Alonso's Real Madrid team-mate Asier Illarramendi are most likely to step in.
Another usually reliable performer who was a huge disappointment at the World Cup, the Barcelona man still has plenty of years left in him, but his place in the team could be at risk if Spain opt for a different style of play that favours physical strength and speed.
Alexis Sanchez (right) consoles his club-mate from Barcelona Andres Iniesta
Although unable to reproduce his usual inspiration from midfield, perhaps because his fellow men in the middle failed to perform, Iniesta remains Spain's best creative asset and should be assured of his place in a future team. Thiago Alcantara, ruled out of the World Cup due to injury, is his only realistic rival for a place.
Although a colossus for Atletico Madrid, fears that the naturalised Spaniard would struggle to fit into a team that prioritises possession rather than playing on the counter-attack were realised. If Roberto Soldado and Alvaro Negredo can recover their form for their clubs, Costa will have to fight to prove he is still worthy of a place in his adopted country's side.
The Manchester City midfielder tried valiantly to click with Costa but was unable to make the partnership blossom. Still has plenty to offer the team but should be aware of Real Madrid's Isco, who will be determined to hold down a regular place in the national side from next season.
His role in Barcelona's success under Pep Guardiola was one of Del Bosque's main motives for bringing him into the team in the first place, but his decline has coincided with that of his club. Fellow Canary Islander Jese, of Real Madrid, poses a real threat.
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