By Paul Giblin MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua)
-- As the Spanish national team
prepares to fly home and their fans begin their retreat from
Moscow, the Spanish media have already begun to pass comment on
their side’s exit from the 2018 World Cup finals at the hands of
host nation Russia.
Spain completed over
1,000 passes in their game against the Russians, yet their only
goal was an own goal following a set piece, prompting sports
daily Marca to criticize the lack of energy and pace in what was
ultimately a sterile passing game with the headline: “Walking
Marca describes the
Spain side as “a side without pace, without depth and without
joy and with a sterile domination of the ball.”
Diario AS looks at
the age of several key players in the Spain side, such as Andres
Iniesta and Gerard Pique, as well as Sergio Ramos and says the
defeat means “the end of a generation” of players who gave Spain
their greatest-ever success eight years ago.
“Spain had a
‘siesta’ for 80 minutes and didn’t have any luck in extra time,”
said the paper.
The Barcelona based
“Diario Sport” headline read “Que Pena,” which means literally
“what a shame”, but is also a play on words over the exit in the
penalty shootout, and says Spain went “out of the World Cup
after a dreadful game against Russia”, while El Mundo Deportivo
also uses the ‘Pena’ wordplay saying it was “maximum pain” and
that “Spain went home after 120 minutes of very little football
and the inability to score a goal.”
“Superdeporte” looks elsewhere to cast the blame, looking back
to Real Madrid’s announcement they had signed Julen Lopetegui as
their new coach just two days before the tournament started,
leading to Lopetegui’s sacking and his last-minute replacement
by Fernando Hierro.
Superdeporte has a
photo of Real Madrid President Florentino Perez on its front
page with the question: “Satisfied?”
In a country where
Perez’s influence is long reaching, perhaps a paper with its
base in Valencia rather than Madrid is the only one willing to
say what many are thinking: that Real Madrid, who are supposed
to be the most Spanish and patriotic of clubs, are the ones
ultimately behind Spain’s downfall.
De Gea reputation at all-time
low as Spain exit World Cup
Paul Giblin MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) --
Spain were knocked out of the World
Cup after losing 3-4 on penalties to Russia on Sunday after
their round of 16 game ended 1-1 after 120 minutes. Although few
members of the Spain squad travel home with their reputation
enhanced following their disappointing World Cup campaign, there
is one player whose image has taken a bigger beating than
anyone; goalkeeper David de Gea.
United man travelled to Russia as arguably the best goalkeeper
in the world after another excellent campaign in the Premier
League and leaves being compared to a “tree stump”; “a traffic
cone” and “a ghost” after a truly horrible World Cup in which
nothing went right for him. Spain conceded six goals in the
World Cup and although you could argue that only one was because
of a clear error from De Gea (Portugal’s second goal in the 3-3
draw in Sochi on June 13) the numbers are cruel.
In four matches he
managed to save just one shot on target from 11 he faced,
including four from Sunday’s penalty shoot-out. That is the
lowest percentage of stops by a keeper who has played in a World
Cup since 1966.
A supporter would
argue that five of those shots came from penalty kicks and that
he actually got a hand to the first penalty Russia scored in
Sunday’s shoot out, but comparisons can be cruel.
Only a matter of
hours after Spain’s exit, Denmark played Croatia with Danish
keeper Kasper Schmeichel saving a penalty in normal time and two
in the shoot-out, while Croatian keeper Danijel Subasic was the
hero of the hour with three saves in the shoot-out.
Some of the saves
Subasic made were from shots similar to those which seemed to go
straight through De Gea, prompting Diario AS to say he was “in
De Gea looked
nervous, while Schmeichel and Subasic were intimidating rather
than intimidated. He’d also looked uncomfortable on crosses and
his distribution was poor throughout the tournament. Indeed
there were strong calls for Kepa Arrizabalaga to replace him
Perhaps Spain coach
Fernando Hierro, mindful that confidence is a major factor for
goalkeepers, could see the harm that dropping De Gea would do to
his keeper and kept faith in him. That faith wasn’t rewarded and
we will never know if Kepa could have been Spain’s savior.
One thing is clear,
with Spain set to appoint a new coach in the wake of their World
Cup failure, De Gea has to convince him, the press and the fans
that he is the still the man to defend the Spanish goal or he
may have to get in line behind Kepa.