Ahead of the final World Cup match for several Spanish stars, Xabi Alonso says that Spain may have not valued their success as it should have been.
Success came in abundance for Spain in the last six years, but the air of invincibility has been taken away from them after just two defeats. The Spanish team would have been experiencing a multitude of emotions in the past few days. Sadness will be inevitable, but that is likely to be accompanied by reminisce as well.
Alonso appears to be going through it. He has been speaking a lot about the ‘end of the era’ aspect – especially because he is unlikely to be at the next World Cup. Now, he says that Spain may not have valued the enormous success. The latest football betting odds from Betfair says Spain are 4/9 to win against Australia. Ahead of the match, Alonso said: “It hurts but the group is carrying it in the same way as our victories.
“Now we value what we achieved and how hard it is. During the process we didn’t value it as much.”
Players like Carlos Puyol and Xavi may not have the chance to say their goodbyes on the pitch. While Puyol was not even part of the World Cup squad, Xavi was not at his usual best in the two matches. He is almost certain to miss the Australia match with a leg injury.
In a statement that is likely to ask further questions of Vicente del Bosque’s tactics, Alonso stated that the Spanish team did not know how to react when they came up against Netherlands and Chile. “We tried but we weren’t at our level. Both [Netherlands and Chile] played very well and we didn’t know how to react,” continued Alonso.
Both teams adopted a similar intense pressing tactics against the Spanish. Although Spain never pressed with the same intensity as the Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, they never allowed the opposition a moment’s rest. Faced with their own tactics, it was strange to see Spain having no answers.
Spain were one of the favourites to win the World Cup with odds of 13/2 from Betfair at the start of the tournament.
Alonso’s latest statements may suggest that the team might have taken things for granted. The warning signs, though, have been appearing as early as 12 months ago in the Confederations Cup. After being ripped apart by Brazil in the final, Spain almost finished second in the qualification stages. They finished just three points above France in the qualification stages and it was because France dropped four points in the final three matches.
The invincibility, it appears, went away before the defeats against Netherlands and Chile. These two matches were not the start of the decline, but those that confirmed it. Spain’s Euro 2016 campaign is likely to start with several new names. Despite the early World Cup exit, Spain are second favourites to win the Euro 2016 at 6/1 from Betfair. Now that they value the success, the upcoming generation will be compared with this generation at every stage. Overcoming this hurdle will be their biggest challenge.