Three Points: Chile send champions Spain crashing out
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Three thoughts from Spain's 2-0 loss to Chile, which spelled the end of the reigning champions' tournament.
1. Champions dethroned
Spain abdicate. Their World Cup is over, and an era ends.
Vicente del Bosque's side have become the fifth defending champions to go out in the group stage but the first to lose their opening two games, and thereby the first side eliminated from the 2014 World Cup.
That emphasises the extent of their fall as much as Charles Aranguiz's finish, Alexis Sanchez's runs and Spain's inability to make anything count.
One of the greatest sides in the history of the sport have suffered one of the most dismal of endings.
In all of that, however, the freshness of Chile should not be overlooked. They did what they promised and created "history." Spain, and possibly their philosophy, are now consigned to history.
It at least needs some change, but so do the team. Iker Casillas' decline was confirmed, while Xavi was sidelined.
It's now impossible to overlook the symbolism of his absence; the cornerstone was weakened, and Spain eventually collapsed.
Del Bosque did not hold strong, either, and some of his weak decisions deserve criticism.
None of this should take away from six years of magnificence. It does, however, take Spain out of this World Cup.
2. Chile continue to look a class act
The stark contrast was emphasised right away. As Spain began the game looking to ponderously build possession, Chile wasted no time in just taking the ball off them and tearing at the defence.
By the end, Alexis Sanchez, just as the Netherlands' Arjen Robben did, was surging into their half as he pleased and causing all manner of chaos in there.
In between, the difference in dynamism made for Spain's downfall, and potentially the end of an era.
Right now, it's still difficult to say whether this is due to a fundamental issue with their possession-pressing game, or whether their players -- for a variety of reasons -- are unable to execute what it requires.
Either way, Spain just couldn't keep up -- or keep Chile out.
The first goal fully displayed the problems and effectively finished Spain off, given how much it changed the dynamics.
The South American side simply flowed through them. Although every Chilean touch was sublime, every Spanish attempt at a tackle was so helpless.
Eduardo Vargas displayed the deftness of touch that Spanish used to have, brilliantly switching feet to send the ball in.
Spain were being sent home; when the second goal went in, it was made even clearer.
While they at once panicked and hesitated, Chile emphatically seized the opportunity. Aranguiz responded to Casillas' anywhere-will-do punch by precisely powering the ball into the corner of the net.
The South Americans were by then displaying a combination of quality and pace beyond Spain. As the deposed world champions toiled to try to make the right pass, Chile were effortlessly winning high-tempo tackles and then nutmegging their opponents. Spain were outpaced, and their play made to look outdated. Chile's progress continues apace.
3. Diego Costa gamble fails to pay off
Spain's problems began from the front and effectively finished there -- not least because their strikers couldn't actually finish.
The Spanish centre-forward role has been one of the most discussed positions in the recent history of the game, right up with Italy's playmaking role in 1970, while also underlining so much of the debate around this team's style.
The selection of Diego Costa has only fed into that, from all of the arguments about his eligibility to those surrounding his suitability to the style.
Here, it all seemed so much more simple. He was not fit, as indicated with every single touch and every wasted chance.
The new Chelsea forward has had a dismal tournament, although some blame must rest on Vicente del Bosque for persisting with the choice.
Costa, meanwhile, chose poorly from his first meaningful attack. After Spain were gifted the ball from a poor Marcelo Diaz pass, the striker tried to power through, only to take the ball too far, hesitate, then pull it wide.
He wasn't any more accurate just before halftime and got worse after it. Sent through on goal, his effort was sent wide.
Costa eventually departed to a deluge of boos, but the real low came right after. Spain had so much talent on the bench, so much attacking quality -- and Del Bosque elected to bring on Fernando Torres as the saviour. A faded star. It summed up so much.
Spain will not now be adding that second star above their shirts.