The Reign of Spain Ends in Pain

Former World Cup champions Spain have been booted out of the tournament, losing to Chile 2:0 in Brazil. Their defeat has triggered a social media storm, with memes poking fun at the Spanish team flooding Twitter.

Spain’s performance at the World Cup this year has been dubbed “the great disappointment” by the Spanish media.

The defending champions were humiliated right from the onset of the tournament, losing 5:1 to Holland. The Spanish team was finally knocked out of the running by Chile on Wednesday evening, prompting a wave of scathing memes on Twitter under the hashtag #CHIvsESP.

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“The King just sent a Whatsapp to Del Bosque (manager of the Spanish team)…”
“Shall we abdicate together?”

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Continuing the theme, Twitter user @viniami2009 posted a meme of Del Bosque.

“Come on guys, let’s get back to Spain to see the coronation of the new king.”

 

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“Don’t turn off the engine! We won’t be long!”

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Disappointed fans targeted Spanish keeper Iker Casillas, who was responsible for letting in seven goals over the course of the first two World Cup matches.

“If you know I’m gonna mess up, why do you bother inviting me?”

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Fans also targeted Spanish striker Diego Costa, who changed his nationality from Brazilian to Spanish to play for the World Cup team.

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Following the match, elated Chilean football fans flooded Italia Square in the country’s capital, Santiago, to celebrate victory. The Chilean team now goes on to face The Netherlands on Monday.

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Compelling Evidence to Suggest that Holland CANNOT Win the World Cup

There are few relationships in football more jealous than that between a Dutchman and the ball itself. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Dutch footballers are blessed with an extraordinary first touch. As these gems from Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Dennis Bergkamp demonstrate, once the ball is under control it seems to become a part of the player’s body.

However, it is also universally acknowledged that Dutch players are amongst the most egocentric in world football. The penchant for a beautiful first touch is symbolic of a desire to keep the ball exclusively. It is has often been the case that the individual takes precedent over the needs of the team and infighting has blighted many a Dutch world cup campaign. And despite their magnificent performance in demolishing world champions Spain 5-1 on Friday night there were signs that all may not be well in the Dutch camp.

Upon scoring the equaliser (an early contender for goal of the tournament) Robin Van Persie sprinted fifty yards to celebrate with manager Louis Van Gaal. The two will shortly be club colleagues at Manchester United. Van Persie was seen as a disruptive influence at Old Trafford last season and it is likely he would have walked away had Van Gaal not been appointed. Van Gaal is not renowned for being a genial manager and therefore his celebration with Van Persie implies a hint of favouritism towards his captain. The potential is there for disharmony among the other players in Van Gaal’s squad.

There appears to be no such tension between Van Persie and Arjen Robben. When the striker was substituted he handed the captain’s armband to Robben with great pomp and ceremony. However, there were hints that all is not well between Robben and the rest of his team mates. For Holland’s fifth goal, Georginio Wijnaldum was perfectly placed for a tap in yet there was never any danger of Robben passing the ball. The shrug of Wijnaldum’s shoulders as the ball hit the net told it’s own story.

Wijnaldum was then guilty of the cardinal sin of switching off after his late shot was saved by Iker Casillas. He threw his arms into the air and was stationary when a follow up shot form Wesley Sneijder was also saved. Sneijder’s own discontent with his lack of goals seemed to outweigh any joy he should have felt for the beautiful through ball he had played for Robben’s second goal.

Spain have been plagued with self doubt since last season’s 3-0 Confederations Cup Final defeat to Brazil. The aura of invincibility has gone and they were there to be shot at by Holland on Friday night. However, wilier teams will pose a much greater threat to Holland throughout this tournament. If the supply to Robben and Van Persie is cut then the frustration will start to grow. Few teams do individual skill like Holland. The legendary Johan Cruyff even had a piece of skill named after him. Yet the fact that the whole has never been greater than the sum of the parts has meant that Holland are the greatest nation never to win the world cup. In this observer’s eyes that trend looks set to continue.

Top 10 promising young talent at the WC

#10 Romelu Lukaku: Belgium

Romelu Lukaku: Belgium
Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku showed an example of what’s to come in this summer’s World Cup after scoring a superb solo goal in the 5-1 win against Luxembourg on May 26 in a game that also saw him bag a hat-trick. On loan at Everton from Chelsea last season, the 21-year-old scored 15 goals and made six assists in the Premier League. He’s now scored 32 goals and made 10 assists in his two full campaigns in the English top flight. Belgium are expected to go far in the World Cup, according to ITV, and with striker Lukaku in great form, they could well reach the final stages of the tournament.

#9 Paul Pogba: France

Paul Pogba: France
Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba is well known but has yet to play in a major international tournament at senior level for France. The 21-year-old joined Juve in 2012 and has gone on to win back-to-back Serie A titles and Supercoppa Italianas, as per Wikipedia. Pogba’s fast rise to glory has been incredible. The talented midfielder won the Golden Ball to go with his FIFA U20 World Cup triumph with France in 2013. He only made his international senior team debut in March that year. Scoring seven goals and making seven assists, while also boasting having made 74 successful dribbles and 48 key passes in Serie A, Pogba is set to play an important part in the France side this summer. Certainly one to watch.

#8 Raheem Sterling: England

Raheem Sterling: England
The Premier League’s 2014 Young Player of the Year nominee Raheem Sterling, who currently plays for Liverpool, is another England hopeful who can really make a difference in this summer’s World Cup. The 19-year-old winger scored nine goals and made five assists for the Reds in the Premier League, and he could be an important impact player for England manager Roy Hodgson.

#7 Joel Campbell: Costa Rica

Joel Campbell: Costa Rica
While Arsenal winger Joel Campbell came to the attentions of many following his superb curled effort for Olympiakos against Manchester United in the Champions League last season, the Costa Rican international has been in incredible form during his loan spell. Campbell, 21, has scored eight goals and made 12 assists for the Greek side. He returns to Arsenal following his temporary spell with Olympiakos but could be the catalyst for the Costa Rica side this summer and could hamper England’s hopes of qualifying from the group stages when the two sides meet in June.

#6 Gerard Deulofeu: Spain

Gerard Deulofeu: Spain
While it can be difficult for newcomers to the Spain squad to force their way into the first team, Barcelona’s Gerard Deulofeu may be one player to whom manager Vicente Del Bosque looks in the World Cup. The 20-year-old spent last season on loan with Everton, scoring threegoals and making three assists. He quickly built up a reputation for his penchant for trickery to beat his opponent, with 44 successful dribbles made, while proving to be a genuine goal threat, too. While he failed to make the initial 30-man provisional squad, Deulofeu was called up for the pre-tournament friendly against Bolivia and could put himself in the driver’s seat for a place on the plane should anyone pull out. He does have Pedro, Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla, Jesus Navas and Andres Iniesta to contend with for a place in the Spain side, but Deulofeu isn’t there to make up the numbers and could be a successful wildcard this summer.

#5 Memphis Depay: Netherlands

Memphis Depay: Netherlands
Promising PSV Eindhoven winger Memphis Depay is a name to remember. The 20-year-old only made his Netherlands debut in October 2013, but he’s now a player who could play an important part in the side in this summer’s World Cup. Depay has scored an impressive 12 goals and made eight assists in 32 league games. He’s made just a handful of appearances for the Netherlands side but has more than proved he’s ready for the next step.

#4 Mateo Kovacic: Croatia

Mateo Kovacic: Croatia
The lesser-known Mateo Kovacic of Inter Milan is perhaps devoid of notoriety but not quality. The 20-year-old Croatian international has featured in all but six of the Nerazzurri’s league games last season. He’s a box-to-box midfielder who drives the ball from deep and into dangerous areas in the final third. Kovacic has made four assists in the league and boasts 71 successful dribbles from midfield. He’s also made 44 tackles and 28 key passes. The Croat played a pivotal part in Inter finishing in a Europa League place, too.

#3 Julian Draxler: Germany

10 Most Exciting Under-21 Players Named in World Cup Squads - Julian Draxler: Germany
Germany boast an impressive midfield in their World Cup squad, but Schalke’s Julian Draxler is certainly one of the most exciting. The 20-year-old has enjoyed a good campaign with the Bundesliga outfit, scoring five goals and making seven assists in the league and Europe. Draxler averages more successful dribbles per game than Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben and Barcelona’s Neymar. Such is the strength of the Germany midfield, Draxler could be limited to substitute appearances, but he’s sure to impress when he does get on the pitch.

#2 Ross Barkley: England

10 Most Exciting Under-21 Players Named in World Cup Squads - Ross Barkley: England
Everton’s exciting midfielder Ross Barkley is a player who could make the difference for England. Such has been the impressive nature of his performances this season, Barkley has been compared to former England attacking midfielder Paul Gascoigne by his own club manager Roberto Martinez, via ESPN. The 20-year-old has enjoyed a superb breakthrough season with the Toffees, scoring six goals and making 80 successful dribbles in 34 Premier League games from midfield. He’s more than merited his call-up for this summer’s World Cup and will look to make an impression. Fearless Barkley has shown himself to be unfazed by the occasion in games and will certainly get minutes on the pitch for England in the World Cup.

#1 Serge Aurier: Ivory Coast

10 Most Exciting Under-21 Players Named in World Cup Squads - Serge Aurier: Ivory Coast
Ivorian defender Serge Aurier is tipped to have a good World Cup with Les Elephants, as reported on ITV. Last season for French side Toulouse, the 21-year-old scored six goals and made six assists from right-back. He’s deadly going forward, evident with his 191 crosses being made in Ligue 1,  and he’s comfortable in possession, with 1577 passes attempted and 1213 completed.

Spain Team Preview

The Players

Iker Casillas goalkeeper, Real Madrid

Raúl Albiol defender, Napoli

Gerard Piqué defender, Barcelona

Javi Martínez midfielder, Bayern Munich

Juanfran defender, Atlético Madrid

Andrés Iniesta midfielder, Barcelona

David Villa forward, Atlético Madrid

Xavi midfielder, Barcelona

Fernando Torres forward, Chelsea

10 Cesc Fábregas midfielder, Barcelona

11 Pedro forward, Barcelona

12 David de Gea goalkeeper, Manchester United

13 Juan Mata midfielder, Manchester United

14 Xabi Alonso midfielder, Real Madrid

15 Sergio Ramos defender, Real Madrid

16 Sergio Busquets midfielder, Barcelona

17 Koke midfielder, Atlético Madrid

18 Jordi Alba defender, Barcelona

19 Diego Costa forward, Atlético Madrid

20 Santi Cazorla midfielder, Arsenal

21 David Silva midfielder, Manchester City

22 César Azpilicueta defender, Chelsea

23 Pepe Reina goalkeeper, Napoli

Star man

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Andrés Iniesta. It would have been impossible to choose a more popular player to score the winner in South Africa in 2010. Even Real Madrid fans like him.

Most likely to be sent home in disgrace
Sergio Ramos has been sent off 17 times for Real Madrid but not once for Spain in 115 appearances but his club and country value him too highly to bother branding him a disgrace.

The coach

Everyone’s favourite cuddly uncle. If there’s one word that leaps to the mind when you meet Vicente del Bosque it’s “decency”. Quiet, humble, generous and warm. Universally liked, except by a tiny handful of the pathetic and bitter. Manages big players softly and occasionally surprises with a tactical innovation. Two league titles, two European Cups, a European Championship and a World Cup. Marquis del Bosque now.

Grudge match

There’s something about the Italians that tends to get their Spanish neighbours going, sending the stereotypes streaming: Italy, it’s often said, are cynical, dirty and boring. Unlike Spain. Crucially, for years, unlike Spain, they were successful, too. The Euro 2008 quarter-finals and the 2012 final have taken some of the edge out of that. Maybe now it will be Brazil. After all, Spain have “signed” Diego Costa, the tall, quick, strong and often prickly Brazilian-born forward. He should be a valuable new weapon in Del Bosque’s armoury.

Holed up

In Curitiba in the south. It’ll be cold, Del Bosque says. Cold for Spain, anyway. Calm, quiet, and relatively isolated but with friends and families close enough to turn up for days off. Card games, sweepstakes on other matches and PlayStation to keep them busy. At the last World Cup, Álvaro Arbeloa and Raúl Albiol always chose to play as England, parading round the camp in three lions shirts with “Gerrard” or “Crouch” on the back. Table tennis matches will be hotly contested, “like double sessions every day”, as Juan Mata puts it. He is the man to beat.

How they qualified
The holders topped their five-team group with six wins and two draws, and only briefly looked troubled by runners-up France when Franck Ribéry ran at their defence.

World Cup high
Short memory? The meat in their euro sandwich, they survived Holland’s attempts to maim them and won the ugly final in 2010, four minutes from the end of extra time when the magnificent Andrés Iniesta half-volleyed his shot past Maarten Stekelenburg.

World Cup low
Leading 2-1 against Nigeria in 1998 with 18 minutes to play they ended up losing 3-2 and the team, stacked with excellent players in their prime such as Luís Enrique, Raúl, Fernando Hierro and Sergi, were knocked out at the group stage when they drew their next match with Paraguay.

Familiar faces
Juan Mata (Manchester United), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), David de Gea (Manchester United), César Azpilicueta (Chelsea), David Silva (Manchester City), Fernando Torres (Chelsea).

Title odds: 5/1

The stereotype is …
Team of magical elves hypnotising the opposition with short, rhythmical passing which proves so mesmeric it makes centreforwards redundant.

The reality is …
Team of magical elves … they are tougher than they seem, are very strong defensively. Spain will adopt a 4-3-3 formation, albeit one that may include no actual strikers at all, and seek possession for protection as well as creation.

What they’re known for?
Tiki taka 36 per cent
Unemployment 19 per cent
Timeshare cockney wideboys 22 per cent
Napping all afternoon 23 per cent

How Google translates the national anthem
It’s an instrumental, which did not stop Eamon Dunphy in 2012 saying the squad had decided not to sing the non-existent words to show Barcelona and Real Madrid players were united in common purpose.

Duration
One minute and 18 sec or 16 bars of brassy pomp and circumstance to honour the king.

How to dress like their fans

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Pastel cashmere jumper slung around the shoulders Style Council-style, eternally sockless and with Ray Bans doubling as Alice band or red shirts, wineskins and comedy matador hats.

Commentator’s go-to fact
In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He had three ships and left from Spain; he sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.