Furia Roja: World Cup 2014 Was The End?
Furia Roja, probably the most beautiful team that ever won a World Cup, seemed to have lost its edge, its furry. Spain was eliminated from World 2014 after 2 defeats against Netherlands and Chile.
What happened with the team that smashed all the opponents in EURO 2008, World Cup 2010 and EURO 2012. Where is Furia Roja that could score against any opponent? We saw just a pale memory of that team in Brazil, scoring only one goal against Netherlands (from a controversial penalty), none against a hard working Chile and 3 against Australia. Is this the end of tiki taka Spain?
La Roja dominant play was built on the skeleton of Barcelona, with a strong midfield formed by Xavi and Iniesta (in 2008) and later on by Sergio Busquets (starting with World Cup 2010). As tiki taka Barcelona rose to power and become an unstoppable force, so did Spain, emulating the style of play of Guardiola’s team. Once Barcelona started to struggle, so did Furia Roja, that was unable to metamorphose the possession style of Barcelona to a more edgy and counter attack style that works nowadays.
Barcelona created tiki taka, a style that was closely followed by La Roja. However, once those players seemed to lose their motivation or started to retire, Vincente del Bosque stubbornly did not change anything and continued on the same path. Let’s not forget that Puyol was the commanding officer in defense, having the spirit to manage even the hardest situations with calm. Puyol teamed up with Sergio Ramos and Pique staring with 2010 and the defense looked unbeatable. Unfortunately, Puyol struggled with injuries in the last 2 years and passed the duty of commanding officer to Sergio Ramos. Ramos, without any doubt, is the a fighter, a guy that never gives up, a world class defender, but he played together with a unmotivated Pique in Brazil. Pique is far from the performance of his best years at Barcelona and this was shown in his playing at World Cup, making a lot of mistakes. Pique was terrible against Netherlands. The circle of safety in Furia Roja‘s defense was broken by a Pique who won everything and lost its willingness to win.
Spain’s creative midfield was instrumental in winning 2 EUROs and 1 World Cup. Xavi seems to have lost its precision and did not even show up in Barcelona’s matches. Xavi, 34 years old, is linked to a departure from Camp Nou to different exotic destinations (USA, Golf area), a statement that shows that his world class football moments are over. Moreover, Xavi lost its reaction speed and seems to slow the game a bit. Andreas Iniesta was the decisive man in bringing the first World Cup trophy for Furia Roja. Unfortunately, Don Andreas is surrounded by teammates that do not have any longer the motivation to win and even Iniesta is no longer playing at his best. Motivation is critical in football and many Spain players won all the trophies and do not find any incentive to fight for another one.
La Roja’s attack was always critical. Dani Guiza, David Villa and Fernando Torres were unstoppable in 2008. Villa and Torres smashed any opponent in 2010 and 2012, showing that they form a lethal duo for Furia Roja. However, Brazil World Cup showed that Spain does no longer have a world class striker. Diego Costa needs time to gel in with the team; he needed years before becoming a star at Atletico (but will La Roja fans have the same patience with him?). Diego Costa is a lethal striker, but he needs to continue playing well and scoring in order to capped again. So, Spain’s Brazilian striker must choose wisely his new team (let’s not forget that Chelsea is strikers cemetery, with so many world class attackers losing themselves on Stamford Bridge – Adrian Mutu, Andriy Shevchenko, Fernando Torres or Demba Ba). World Cup 2014 showed that Diego Costa is not ready yet to become Vicente del Bosque’s spearhead, and the goals were scored by the David Villa (Spain’s all time top scorer) and by Fernado Torres (who struggles to contract the omnipresent accusations that he is totally out of form).
Jose Mourinho was right about Iker Casillas. San Iker is far from his best moments and that is why even Carlo Ancelotti still uses Diego Lopez as first option. Casillas was a responsible for the World Cup disaster against Netherlands, showing that he is totally out of form.
Furia Roja played tiki taka, but seems that this style reached at its end, showing limitations against very organized defenses. This style is prone to lethal counters. Spain must understand that it must give the ball to the opponents also, in order to create breaches and spaces, otherwise it becomes impossible for the to penetrate a defense wall.
Is Vicente del Bosque going to be sacked by the federation? Most probably not. Vicente del Bosque will not be fired by Spain’s Federation because in just two months EURO qualifiers starts and it would be very hard for someone to come and rise up to those high expectations that Furia Roja has. Moreover, is the fact that Vicente del Bosque has enough experience to create a rising Phoenix. The most important aspect that must be changed is to get rid off the old guard, that has absolutely no motivation (Xavi, Iker Casillas, Gerard Pique, Raul Albiol, Xabi Alonso). The defense should be rebuilt around Sergio Ramos’ spirit, who should partner up with Marc Bartra or Inigo Martinez, while Azpilicueta should be challenged by Carvajal. David de Geea should become Spain’s number 1 goalkeeper because he already demonstrated his qualities at Manchester United. Also, Furia Roja may still count on Pepe Reina. Midfield needs an injection of freshness, creativity and speed and who are suitable than Thiago Alcantara (even though he struggled with injuries, Thiago was decisive when he played for Bayern), Javi Martinez, Isco and Koke (played quite good against Chile). In the attack, La Roja should use Jese and Deulofeu in the near future.
This was the end of a football cycle Furia Roja, but they must start the reconstruction!