Spain needs to make changes and bring in the next generation of stars after being eliminated from the World Cup.
La Furia Roja is out of Brazil 2014 after losing its first two matches to the Netherlands and Chile, making the 3-0 win against Australia an irrelevant one.
The Spaniards were considered to be a contender to win the World Cup and even become the first team since Brazil in 1958 and 1962 to win back-to-back titles.
Coach Vicente Del Bosque relied too much on some of the stars from the past and it backfired on him and his team. Spain’s tiki-taka football looked slow, static and predictable against the Dutch and Chileans and the reliance on the veterans played its part.
Iker Casillas had arguably his two worst performances as a professional goalkeeper when the Netherlands thrashed Spain 5-1 and Chile disposed of the Spaniards 2-0. Casillas lacked confidence and his errors played a huge role in Spain conceding as many goals as it did.
Midfielders Xabi Alonso and Xavi are in their early 30s and the World Cup looked like one tournament too many for them. They could not handle the physically stronger Dutch players or the faster Chileans.
Fernando Torres was another player who should not have played at the World Cup. He did score against Australia but the match was a dead rubber. He has not been impressive since becoming a Chelsea player in 2011 and he has looked like a shadow of himself for the last few years.
If selecting those veterans was a mistake, Del Bosque’s worst mistake has to be convincing Brazilian striker Diego Costa to switch allegiances.
After playing a few friendlies for Brazil, Costa was Spain’s centre-forward at the World Cup and it was an unsuccessful move. He won a penalty against the Dutch but he failed to score in the tournament.
It’s puzzling to work out why Spain would call-up Costa in the first place. Cesc Fabregas did well in the false nine role at Euro 2012 so why change a winning formula? Even if Del Bosque wanted a more traditional centre-forward, he could have used a Spanish-born player like Alvaro Negredo or Fernando Llorente.
Negredo scored nine goals in 32 EPL matches as Manchester City went on to win the Premier League title and Llorente scored 16 goals in 34 matches as Juventus went on to win the Serie A title.
Llorente is not the only Italy-based player who should have gone to the World Cup. Right-winger Jose Callejon and central midfielder Borja Valero were worthy of selection too.
The Serie A is not as strong as it used to be and Spaniards usually struggle on the Italian peninsula but Callejon and Valero merited spots in the Spanish squad.
Callejon scored 15 goals in 37 matches for Napoli in his first Serie A season and Valero has been Fiorentina’s midfield general for the last two seasons.
Spain has plenty of depth in central midfield and most of the players are in winning teams but Valero has been a real standout in the Serie A since arriving in Italy two years ago.
The Spanish need to bring in more stars from their youth teams now. Players like Marc Bartra, Gerard Deulofeu and Thiago Alcantara probably weren’t good enough for this World Cup but they are the type of players La Furia Roja could be relying on at Euro 2016 and Russia 2018.
Spain still had some youngsters who were good enough to play at this World Cup such as Iker Muniain, Isco, Alberto Moreno and Daniel Carvajal.
Athletic Bilbao midfielders Ander Herrera and Ander Iturraspe are in their mid-20s but they too could have made Spain’s final 23 for the World Cup.
Del Bosque was perhaps spoilt for choice but he probably should have left out some of the old faces when he selected Spain’s squad for the World Cup.
This marks the end of a generation and a new one will be expected to emerge. The players are there but regardless if Del Bosque stays as coach or a new one comes in, the newcomers must play ASAP.