The dust has all but settled on the lopsided Confederations Cup final between Spain and Brazil.
The Samba Boys triumphed with ease, as Spain looked fatigued and uninspired.
While a 3-0 defeat for La Roja was certainly unexpected, it is just a minor speed bump on their path to World Cup glory. With a plethora of personnel options and a year to regroup, Spain will come back strong next summer.
It was easy to overreact following the game. We have been so accustomed to the brilliant passing and technique of Spain, that it was painful to watch them suffer.
Spain's fragility on the defensive end was finally exposed, and the team can now evaluate problems they were unaware of before the tournament.
The saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Spain are far from broken, but there is room to improve. Competition breeds the best. It always has.
When teams, companies or individuals cruise at the top, they fail to recognize where they can advance. If they are beating everybody else, what's the point?
But a shock to the system—like this humbling defeat—will raise questions previously unaddressed by Vicente del Bosque.
Del Bosque now has the opportunity to review his side and understand what holes need to be plugged—and by whom.
Brazil frantically pressured throughout the match—cheered on by the home support. This aggressive approach wreaked havoc on Spain's defense and midfield as Spain struggled to advance the ball. Despite facing fast, physical opposition, Spain stubbornly continued their tika-taka game plan.
Instead of adapting, Spain continued to attempt what usually gets the job done. Needless to say, they were unsuccessful.
But there should be no reason to worry. Del Bosque has all the tools at his disposal; he just needs to implement them in the right fashion.
Against most opposition, Spain's traditional free-flowing offense will push them on to victory. But in the later stages of next year's World Cup, they must utilize a more direct approach to get results.
Spain have the players to do so.
Xavi and Sergio Busquets looked ill-equipped to provide cover when the ball was turned over in the middle. But on the bench, Javi Martinez—critical in the holding role for Bayern Munich—looked on, unable to contribute.
It is also easy to overlook the impact of Xabi Alonso, whose sturdy approach was conspicuously absent. In the past two championships for Spain, Alonso has been crucial in his pairing with Busquets, allowing Xavi to play a more advanced midfield role.
A groin injury kept him out of the side, but Spain are a much better team with him out there.
Jesus Navas was direct and lively when he entered the match, giving Spain a more straightforward approach. Pedro provides a similar spark of pace needed when the passing breaks down.
Despite not utilizing a striker as a focal point of the attack, Spain do well with a direct option up top. Between Fernando Torres, Roberto Soldado and Alvaro Negredo, They have plenty of traditional forward options to cater to that approach.
Lastly, the full-backs will learn that they cannot both roam freely when Spain do not have possession. Jordi Alba loves to get up and down the left side, but he will need to recognize when cover is needed.
Del Bosque must carefully navigate qualification, but there is no doubt that Spain will head to Brazil next summer. With ample time to adjust and a vast pool of talented options, Spain will bounce back stronger than ever.