Was Sunday’s 3-0 meltdown against Brazil, in the final of the Confederations Cup, just a blip on the Spanish screen, or did it spell the end of an era for La Roja? This was the question that the Spanish media were trying to address Monday, in the aftermath of Spain’s first competitive defeat since 2010.
Most of the media preferred to see it as just a bad day at the office for Vicente del Bosque’s team.
For example, the headline in Marca was “We Shall Return”, in reference to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil -- a defiant war-cry reminiscent of General Douglas MacArthur after retreating from the Philippines in 1942.
Marca then listed their explanation for their defeat: fatigue after Thursday’s gruelling semifinal against Italy, an early goal conceded, specific mistakes in defence, a penalty missed.
Del Bosque set the tone for this line of interpretation by saying “sometimes it is convenient to lose...We have been unlucky to concede goals in vital moments. The first goal was key but this should not be an excuse. They pressed us very strongly and broke up our rhythm with continuous fouls.” However, the taciturn veteran coach -- who guided Spain to glory at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 -- was also quick to congratulate Brazil: “They were superior to us. Congratulations to them, they are worthy champions. They must now be one of the favourites for the World Cup.”
Meanwhile, playmaker Xavi said: “Nothing came off for us. We did not dominate as we usually. They had more intensity, more rhythm and more pressing than us, they were superior.” AS claimed that the only Spanish player up to par in Maracana was Andres Iniesta. “Xavi has had a poor tournament...(Iker) Casillas did not pull off any miracles, unlike against Italy.” AS was more open to the end-of-an-era debate than Marca, asking the question: “Will things be better in the World Cup? Within a year we will know if this team has a future, or whether it needs to be rebuilt.” Radio station Cadena COPE was more pessimistic Monday, commenting that “this might have been a watershed week for Spain. We failed to beat Italy (the semifinal was decided on penalties after a 0-0 draw) and were well beaten by Brazil. Maybe this is the beginning of the end for this wonderful team.” And Cadena SER suggested that veterans like Xavi, Casillas, Alvaro Arbeloa and David Villa might need to be replaced.
Meanwhile, Onda Cero asked why Spain’s penalty was taken by defender Sergio Ramos, not really a specialist despite having scored one in the shootout against Italy.
“The taker should have been Xavi or Iniesta...This demonstrates a certain lack of order within the team.” The media in Catalonia, meanwhile, bemoaned the fact that most of the players of champions Barcelona have spent a tiring, ultimately frustrating month in Brazil -- and might be fatigued for the start of next season.
Sport, for its part, was full of praise for Barca’s new signing Neymar -- who scored Brazil’s second goal and was voted player of the tournament -- and commented that it was a good move to sign him before his market value increased dramatically in the Confederations Cup.
10.7 million Spaniards stayed up for the start of the game at midnight European time, but almost half of these had gone to bed in despair by the final whistle.