After Spain fell to Brazil’s aggressive tactics and energy in the Confederations Cup Final on June 31, skepticism immediately began to pour in from all angles for La Roja.
Winners of the last World Cup and past two Euro Cups, Spain appeared to be the frontrunner heading into the match. Before Spain could find its feet, Brazil had already begun destroying the ivory tower that has ruled international football for the past five years.
However, although Spain may have been temporarily dethroned, the team is still next in line to win the World Cup - I wouldn’t plan on them giving up that position anytime soon.
International football is certainly overdue for a new emperor, but Spain’s second term is coming right around the corner as the World Cup comes back to Brazil next summer. The Spanish may be a bit withered, but amidst their age lays creativity and wisdom that no other team can boast. The final against Brazil showed a need for Spain to refocus its tactical efforts, but in no way did it mark the end of the Spanish-playing style that carried them to glory. The 3-0 score may have read all Brazil, but in between the touchlines, there was a Spanish team present that had the ability to win and potentially dominate in the right setting.
In Sunday’s match, the opening half felt as if Spain had lost its way. The scoreless semi-final against Italy seemed to have left them mentally and physically drained, giving them little confidence in the finishing third. It definitely didn’t help that Brazil grabbed momentum, instantly scoring an early goal. Even when it appeared that Spain had bounced back into rhythm, Brazil would find a way to escape by a hair and reclaim the match.
As La Roja walked off the field, being handed their worst loss in recent memory, critics couldn’t help but wonder: Is it time for a changing of the guards?
When Spain finally regroups for the next stage of their reign, I expect to see familiar faces anchoring the team. However, a midfield lineup rotation is in order. Spain has the tools to establish the right balance between controlling and aggressive, but the team needs to couple that skill and creativity with proper mental preparation.
Brazil certainly plays a beautiful game, but Spain has mastered the craft. The teacher may have let himself slip for a moment, but when the pressure is on next summer, Spain will reclaim its spot at the head of the class.
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