RIO DE JANEIRO -- The World Cup has begun the search, the selection, the choosing process.
Four years ago, on that cold night in Soweto, we left Soccer City in Johannesburg with a clear mind and a happy heart: the champion was a true champion. And soccer had a "king" worthy from any viewpoint.
At an average of three goals per game, with sublime performances, games back and forth, dramatic goals and full stadiums, almost no one seemed to have the time to take in the most important thing concerning the Spanish debacle Wednesday at the Maracana.
Spain has gone and we've "cried" sufficiently over it, but the question here is: will the successor to the throne on July 13 be a team with the same developmental capacity for football spectacles that Spain promoted during the last era? There are very few teams who could raise their hands to express themselves on the field in that spirit and with that ability to produce great football.
Brazil, the inventor of the jogo bonito, doesn't seem to have either the ability or the intention. Will it be Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie's Netherlands, who've had flashes of great football in this World Cup? Or maybe two historic teams like Germany and Italy will appear, or we'll just have to wait for Lionel Messi and Argentina or someone else who will mean a great surprise in this championship.
Spain filled an attractive football era for the rostrum. A team that played under a defined style and while statistically lacking in goals -- as happened in the 2010 World Cup -- it had the ability to supply it with a deep type of game and finished with a regularity that ended up entertaining the viewer.
Even in the middle of the group stage, the 2014 World Cup has had as an essential characteristic a different mentality for most of the teams. All of them, those who have followed that path, seem more concerned with attacking, offending rather than defending themselves, and that has meant a highly attractive soccer. The record for most goals in the World Cup is close to being broken, a fact, an unambiguous statistic of what we are witnessing on the Brazilian fields.
But finding football's new king won't be easy. He'll need to have the aromas, ideas, morality, the spirit and the cleansing that Spain had for all these years. Searching for the "heir," the ideal heir, even if it's someone of the same lineage, the same blood, the same level of prominence, promises to be a difficult task.
David Faitelson is based in Los Angeles and co-hosts "Nacion ESPN," ESPN Deportes' version of "SportsNation." Follow him on Twitter @Faitelson_ESPN.