Top 10 Reasons Why Spain Bombed Out of the World Cup



The exit of the holding World Cup champions Spain at the group stage of the tournament must have come as a huge shock to football fans all over the world and this was not any team; they have also won 2 European championships back to back. In such circumstances, it must be said that their exit has been one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history, however there are certain fundamentally reasons why the team failed to click and this article loos at the top 10 reasons.

10. The Weather Did Them In

This excuse about the weather might seem to be a lame one since it is the same for all teams; however it needs to be pointed out that the venues at which Spain played their first two games in Salvador and Rio are places which have a particularly unforgiving weather. In addition to that, Spain’s team of ageing superstars perhaps could not cope with it as well as they should have and in the very first game that deficiency was evident as Spain simply could not match the younger Dutch team in pace and power, thereby ending up losing 5-1.


9. The Confederations Cup Experience Was a Mental Scar

In 2013, Brazil hosted the Confederations Cup as dress rehearsal of sorts for the World Cup a year later and in that multi nation tournament Spain were spanked 3-0 by a ruthless Brazil in the finals with a clinical display. Brazilian midfielders rushed the tiki taka kings every time they got the ball and completely destroyed their rhythm en route to a famous win. Although, many people did not realise at the time, doubts seemed to have set in among the Spanish players that their system might not be as impregnable as they might have imagined and it seemed they carried a hangover from that loss into the 2014 World Cup.


8. Over Reliance on Barcelona FC

The rise of Spain as a footballing power coincided with the rise of Barcelona FC as one of the finest teams of the past 50 years in club football and Barcelona players like Iniesta, David Villa, Xavi, Busquets, Puyol, Pique turned the team into an unbeatable unit. However, Barcelona ended the 2013-14 season without a trophy which was a clear indication that the team was in decline and the players were also on their last legs as top level professionals. In such a scenario, it was not a surprise that the Spanish national team failed to make an impression at the World Cup.


7. Playing Busquets at Defensive Midfield

Any team that depends heavily on the strengths of its midfielders needs a midfield general of sorts who can work as a shield for the defenders and break up play whenever the opponents have the ball. In a nutshell he is the midfielder who is supposed to do the dirty work in the midfield so that the creative players can go about their business with aplomb and in this regard Sergio Busquets has been an excellent servant for Spain, however he had a horrible run of form in the months leading up to the World Cup for Barcelona. His positional awareness went for a toss and more often than not he was being caught out by the intelligent players of Chile and the Netherlands. The defence was left exposed time and again due to Busquets’ inability to stem the flow of attacks.


6. Not Changing the System Even Though the Personnel Were not suited to it

As mentioned earlier, Spain were given some rough treatment by the Brazilian team in the Confederations Cup in 2013 but even after that debacle, the team management decided against adopting an alternative system. This fact that they continued to believe that their short passing tiki taka game would do the trick in Brazil smacked of nothing but hubris and delusions of grandeur. Now, the players whom they took to the tournament were simply not at their peak as they were 4 years ago and the result was there for all to see.


5. Absence of a Defensive Leader

Spain might not be famed for having an outstanding defence but in former Barcelona central defender CarlesPuyol they had a player who could inspire the 4 defenders into delivering beyond their potential and his leadership skills was sorely missed at this tournament. A volatile character like Sergio Ramos can never be the replacement for a player of that calibre and the fact that Spain conceded more goals in the 2014 World Cup than the combined total of the goals they conceded in the 2010 World Cup and the 2 European Championships is a stark reminder of this defensive listlessness.


4. A Forward like Costa does not Suit Spain

During their triumphant Euro 2012 campaign, Spain stunned the world of football by playing a team without a specialist forward in a 4-6-0 formation that was inventive but baffling at the same time. However, the formation was incredibly successful as Spain cantered to the title, however in the World Cup in 2014 they decided to try La Liga champions Atletico Madrid’s top scorer Diego Costa as the lone forward. Although he is an excellent player he is not a player who thrives in a short passing system and usually prefers quick direct passes to the centre of the box. In the end, Costa ended the tournament with exactly 0 goals as Spain packed their bags early.


3. Casillas Has Lost It

It is a well known fact that a captain in any team sport should be an automatic choice in the side but in case of Spain’s captain Iker Casillas that was not the case. At his club Real Madrid he found himself relegated to second choice keeper as his deficiencies as a keeper was regularly exposed by opponents and although he is one of the modern greats of the game he should not have been in the starting line up for Spain. In the game against Netherlands he was responsible for 3 out of the 5 goals as he committed on blunder after another and so was the case with the second goal that Chile scored. Sentimentality has no place in professional sports and Spain paid a heavy price by sticking to Casillas.


2. Xavi is No Longer the Player He Was

Who was the man who was responsible for pulling the strings of the system that went on to dominate global football for so long? It was Xavi Hernandez, who made those incisive passes out of nowhere and kept the ball among his teammates whenever the opponents threatened to make any kind of headway into the Spanish half. However, at the age of 34, Xavi simply did not have the ability or the gumption to carry on the high energy game that was required of him as the centre of the attacking system. It wasn’t a surprise that the Spanish tiki taka system collapsed as a whole due to Xavi’s non-performance.


1. Del Bosque is too Rigid in his Approach

The hugely successful Spanish manager Vincente Del Bosque, who guided the national team to the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championships in 2012, said ahead of the tournament that Spain were not the ‘Taliban of a certain style of play’. However, his assertions proved to be nothing more than lip service to the media as he continued to play in a system that had run its course due to the absence of players who could execute the patterns involved. Del Bosque’s tactical stubbornness is without doubt the top reason why Spain failed to do anything of note in the World Cup.



So, those were the top 10 reasons why Spain could not reach the heights that was expected of them in this world cup and hopefully they will emerge as a stronger side in the next edition.


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