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Jun 19, 2014

Xabi Alonso expects Spain changes

Xabi Alonso believes Spain lacked the required hunger and conviction to compete at the World Cup, while also saying that he was sure major changes would now take place in the La Roja squad.

Spain exit 'horrible and vulgar'
- Marcotti: The mighty have fallen
- Jones: Casillas deserves better than to exit with a whimper

The 2010 champions lasted just two games in the 2014 competition before elimination was confirmed, first being hammered 5-1 by Netherlands, then losing 2-0 to Chile to become the first ever holders to be eliminated so soon from the following finals.

Coach Vicente del Bosque and senior players including Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Andres Iniesta claimed after the Chile loss to be surprised a previously all-conquering team had been unable to keep their run of success going. But Alonso was more blunt in his appraisal of what had gone wrong when speaking to reporters in the Maracana mixed zone.

The Real Madrid midfielder -- who was taken off early in both games and gave up possession directly before Chile's opener -- says he and his teammates had not been sufficiently prepared mentally or physically to retain their title.

"It is a very unexpected failure," Alonso said. "We did not expect this, but these things happen in sport. We did not know how to maintain the hunger, the conviction, the ambition to go for the tournament. Our quota of joy and success had been used up, emptied.

"We made a lot of footballing errors. We lost the know-how, the solidity which had won us so many games. The feeling was not like that of other championships. We were not mentally or physically ready. Putting everything together we were not in the best shape. We were not up to it, and we deserve to be out."

While Spain's other senior figures said it was too early to make decisions about retirements or changes to the squad, Alonso said he was sure that such a painful defeat would lead immediately to a major shake-up.

"I believe things are going to change," he said. "Normally cycles end with a defeat, and this has been a very painful defeat. For sure things are going to change."

Alonso accepted that the side had not had the mental toughness to respond when they suffered a setbacks during games -- such as when Netherlands equalised just before half-time, or Chile took the lead against the run of play.

"We played against two great teams, who had prepared the games very well," he said. "We did not know how to control the situations, in other tournaments we had known how to do so. Not against Netherlands, after the equaliser, nor against Chile either, after the 1-0."

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