The cup is now wide open as one of the favorites is gone and that affects the balance of power among the other contenders. Spain imploded over a two-game stretch that will go down in history as one of the most meteoric declines in global football. The fact that not a single player was able to shine says volumes.
Coach Vicente del Bosque, when asked about his future and Spain’s going forward said: “It is not time to worry about my future. We will analyze what has happened and see what needs to be done for the benefit of Spanish Football and that effort will include me.” Frankly, those discussions will probably end with the Spanish Football authorities choosing someone else to take the helm going forward.
The world press was universal in its surprise about Spain crashing out of the cup while the Spanish and Chilean press were unforgiving and jubilant respectively.
The London Times said on its front page: “End of the line at World Cup for aristocratic Spain.” The lead article said: “On the day that King Juan Carlos signed the Abdication Bill…his country’s footballers also lost their grip on power.” The Buenos Aires daily La Nacion, said: “In another Maracanazo, Chile beat Spain and left them out of the World Cup!” Le Monde said: “End of the Spanish reign, eliminated in the first round!”
Spain’s Marca had a banner headline that said: “Crashed out!” The front page’s second headline said “The end of a unique generation.” The lead article called the team’s performance against Chile “poor” and their overall performance at the tournament “ridiculous.”
Meanwhile, in Santiago, the Chilean press via newspaper of record, El Mercurio, had a banner headline that exclaimed “We qualified!” The meaning being they moved on to the next round. The lead article said: “Chile scripts a new Maracanazo and eliminates the world champions.”
In today’s first game, the Dutch barely beat a game Australia 3-2 and Tim Cahill had one of the goals of the tournament. In the day's final game, Croatia demolished Cameroon after pulling ahead in the first half and then having Alex Song sent off for an ugly hit in the back on Mario Mandzukic who scored a brace in his team’s 4-0 victory. The win pits Mexico and Croatia in an upcoming winner-progresses match.
If one were to rate the teams based on actual performances the Germans, Dutch, Chileans, Argentines, Colombians, Italians, and French, would be the top teams in that order. All of them are likely to progress as are the hosts, Russia, and Belgium, but questions still remain about some teams with pedigree such as Portugal, Uruguay, and Ecuador.
Tomorrow the Uruguayans will play England in Group D showdown with the winners still having a chance to move on and the losers packing their bags. Colombia and the Ivory Coast will fight out who tops Group C, while Greece and Japan play for a chance to stay alive.