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Spains early exit is no mystery

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Spain’s World Cup was over before the tournament even started.

Whenever a team is surprisingly eliminated from a tournament their is always a period of “Why did this happen?”. This is followed by the team’s football identity being questioned, along with their style. Then comes the questions of complacency. But for Spain the answer is simple, sacking your manager two days before the World Cup is a bad idea.

Who could have known that sacking the manager two days before the World Cup and replacing him with a man who has only managed a Spanish second division side would end in such a disastrous manner? Apparently not Luis Rubiales whose arrogance has resulted in his nation exiting the World Cup earlier than necessary.

Before even a ball was kicked many should have and probably were expecting this outcome. The murmurs of players requesting Lopetegui to remain in place till after the World Cup signalled that the player’s focus was disturbed when they should have been focused on training for their opening match against the Portuguese.

Lopetegui’s guidance of this generation of Spanish players over the last two years had shaped this Spanish side into contenders once again but it all came tumbling down when it was announced that he’d be taking over at Real Madrid when the tournament ended.

Many had claimed that this Spanish team would be able to manage themselves but on the pitch, the players lacked the decisiveness, leadership and cutting edge of past Spanish sides. Spain’s once-impregnable defence continuously left the door open for the counterattack against Portugal and was caught out again against Morocco.

David De Gea whose head seemed elsewhere managed only one save from seven shots on target he faced, with his biggest mistake coming when he failed to smother Ronaldo’s from the edge of the area.

If they were looking for instructions Hierro didn’t seem to have the answers. When searching for a goal against Russia’s Iron curtain he elected to take Diego Costa off for Iago Aspas instead of subbing an unnecessary defender out. The introduction of Rodrigo and Aspas did have an impact, but it was too little too late.

The last half an hour was dreary as was most of the match and it felt as though the Spanish players were resigned to going to penalties, they played as if they were 3-0 up. There was no movement between the lines and perhaps it was inevitable that they would go out.

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