It's full-on postmortem time in Spain and around the soccer world, as people grapple with La Roja's ignominious exit from this year's World Cup. One of the finest international runs the sport has ever seen went out not with a whimper, but with an embarrassing, well-documented shriek.
The picture at the top comes from today's Marca. The subhead reads "Lamentable end to the most glorious era for La Roja." That's just the start of it. "Maracanã was the place where six years of Spanish world domination came to an end," writes Javier Estepa under the headline "Spain Dethroned." Marca's recap of the Chile game is called "Spain, the party's over." On the bright side, they also look to the future in a "Now what?" article. The Spanish Football Federation apparently believes in manager Vicente Del Bosque, but it looks like more of the young guys that won the last two U21 European Championships will fill the shoes of the senior team's aging core.
Indeed, that's the solution José Mourinho sees as the way forward for Spain. In his duties as Yahoo's global football ambassador, he offered some of his own thoughts on the Spanish debacle, saying Spain looked "predictable, slow, and sad." He added:
The surprise is Spain played two games in four days against two teams with the same style. They have not looked at the strategic side of the game, they have accumulated many players in the centre. [...] Before it was hard to put in Koke, De Gea, Morata. Now it's easy. That's what happened before and with Italy or France. It's hard to change when you win.
Elsewhere in Spain, Diario AS attempted to remember the good times, with the cover story reading "It Was Nice While It Lasted." One of its columnists doesn't want to hear any apologies: "Don't say sorry: We owe you so much." El País, on the other hand, was still miserable and directly compared this to the Titanic.
Chile understandably focused more on their own team's victory. El Mercurio's wordy headline was "Chile eliminates the world champions and advances to the second round of Brazil 2014." Alexis Sanchez was quoted as saying "Since childhood, one wants to be the world champion. I have big dreams, and nobody can take them away from me."
As you can see, Las Últimas Noticias's entire first page was a picture of the Chilean team celebrating with the headline "Pure Chile." Its second and third pages were taken up almost entirely by a single image of the team, with the words "the game of our lives."
In Brazil, Folha de Sao Paulo pulled no punches. Its cover reads "End Of Reign." The story called the event the Maracanazo, which roughly translates to "the Maracana blow" and usually refers to Brazil's shocking loss to Uruguay on home soil in the 1950 World Cup final that the country still hasn't gotten over. It continues:
But the very scene of the beheading of champions, in Maracanã, offers clues to the new order of the ball. […] As in humiliating defeat to the Netherlands, the current champions once again had greater possession. And they lost to a team that, if they drank from the same fountain (the Dutch Oranje in 1974), was able to adapt the formula to more efficient football.
In France, L'Equipe was as surprised as anyone with the result: "Chile have eliminated Spain!" Italy's Gazzetta Dello Sport has an entire section, "Adios Spain," dedicated to documenting the collapse. Jacopo Gerna tracks the fall of tiki-taka on both club and international fronts: "From Barcelona to La Roja: Spain ends an era."
As a peace offering, and maybe a sign of what's to come, we'll you with Marca's final words: "We'll be back."