RIO DE JANEIRO (AP)
After watching Spain miss one chance after another and suffer a second straight humiliating loss at the World Cup, Victor Serra and other Spanish supporters walked out of Rio’s Maracana stadium to hordes of Chilean fans yelling “It’s over! It’s over!”
It was, for both Spain’s World Cup campaign and its era of dominance that lasted six years but ended with a 2-0 loss to Chile on Wednesday.
Serra shrugged off the jeers but other Spanish fans left the stadium in tears as huge crowds of Chileans danced in the street. Many Spaniards said they believed coach Vicente del Bosque erred badly by stacking his team with seasoned and overconfident veterans instead of choosing younger, more hungry players.
It was Spain’s second loss in Brazil after a 5-1 rout by the Netherlands. And the result ended any hope the team has of advancing, a bitter end for a football dynasty that has been ranked No. 1 in the world for years and won the European Championship in 2008 and 2012 plus the 2010 World Cup.
“The problem is that Spain has already won everything and now there just wasn’t the passion to make history again,” said Serra, from the southern city of Valencia.
Using an expression in Spanish to describe how dead bulls are hauled out of the ring after being killed by matadors, he said Del Bosque “should have used younger players, the old guard needs to be dragged away.”
Even more crushing for Spaniards is the fact that the country’s football success has been one of the few joys that Spaniards have had following punishing years of recession and a near meltdown of the economy in 2012 that has left a staggering one out of every four Spaniards jobless.
The rate is double that for Spaniards under the age of 25, many of whom have emigrated elsewhere in Europe and to Latin America for jobs.
“It’s almost like all of what we won before was a dream,” said Beatriz Corral, who came to Rio from Madrid to cheer for Spain. “The only happiness we’ve had in recent years has been football. Now the crisis is complete. We don’t have bread or the circus.”
Spaniard Ana Peralta gave credit to Chile for playing extremely well but said the result made it clear that Spain’s team “needs to be renewed” with fresh talent. Sixteen players on the 23-member squad also played during the 2010 World Cup.
“Chile played very strongly and aggressively and just didn’t give away any opportunities,” she said.
In the Madrid suburb of Pozuelo de Alarcon, fans who watched the game inside a bar moved outside to a terrace and glumly sipped beer as they talked about what went wrong with their team.
“I feel terrible and deceived because we had all the hope in the world of defending the title and we ended up so far away from that,” said Susana Lopez.
Abidio Augusto concluded that Spain’s performance was a bad joke.
“It’s ridiculous what we’ve done. Our team was moving like they were tired, with no desire to win,” he said. “It’s just real bad.”
David Bollon said he was furious with del Bosque, blaming him for shaming Spain with the losses so early into the World Cup.
“He didn’t have the courage to put in young players who are hungry,” Bollon said.
In Madrid, university student Celia Lopez also took out her anger on Spain’s coach, saying he took “players who did not do anything in the season but are in Brazil because of their (famous) names with no illusion or desire.”
“You can’t go to a World Cup under these conditions,” she said.
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