Chile advanced out of Group B and into the round of 16 by knocking Spain out of the 2014 World Cup with a 2-0 victory on Wednesday.
The reigning champion Spanish side has to be extremely disappointed with their underwhelming performance, and a couple of the culprits were goalkeeper Iker Casillas and striker Diego Costa. After getting crushed 5-1 by the Netherlands in the opening match, it was going to take something special for Spain to rally.
Unfortunately, neither Costa nor Casillas proved to be effective catalysts in turning the tide.
Grant Wahl of Sports Illlustrated noted the trend of the top powers going home early in the World Cup, but ESPN Stats & Info added to Spain's heartbreak:
3 of the last 4 World Cup champions have gone out in the group stage the following tournament.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 18, 2014
Spain is the 1st defending World Cup champion eliminated with 1 game left in group stage #ESPvsCHI— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 18, 2014
Serge Fagelman of LBC called out the two prominent Spaniards for their lackluster form on the big international football stage:
The two people I would blame for Spain's exit would be, Diego Costa & Iker Casillas. Probably the two most important positions in football.— Serge Fagelman (@SergeFagelman) June 18, 2014
Two critical errors caused Casillas to concede both Chile goals, with the first coming on a premature exit from his position to go after a ball. It was an ill-fated decision, as he left the goal open and allowed Eduardo Vargas to draw first blood in the 18th minute.
Casillas' misplay on a free-kick save led to an easy rebound and the insurance goal for Chile by Charles Aranguiz at 43'. That sent all the momentum away from Spain just ahead of the halftime intermission.
U.S. women's national team forward Sydney Leroux cited Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa's sensational World Cup display in a creative take on Casillas' struggles:
On a scale of Casillas to Ochoa, how’s everybody's day going?— Sydney Leroux (@sydneyleroux) June 18, 2014
Heidi N. Moore of The Guardian was having a hard time justifying Casillas' play between the posts:
Just quoted a Shakespeare sonnet to explain why I will still adore and remain loyal to Iker Casillas despite his rough time with the ball.— Heidi N. Moore (@moorehn) June 18, 2014
AFP's Tom Williams felt Spain were essentially doomed following Aranguiz's goal:
Spain's sky is falling in. Iker Casillas blocks Alexis Sanchez free-kick but Aranguiz is on hand to toe-poke home. Chile 2-0 up.— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) June 18, 2014
Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey made a simple yet effective political analogy to describe the action:
Notably, Iker Casillas still has a higher approval rate than congress.— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) June 18, 2014
After the shocking second defeat, Casillas expressed regret that the veteran core of Spain's roster were sent off in a bitter way, per AS.com:
Casillas: "We have a few players who are over 30; it's just a shame that this generation had to bow out (of Brazil 2014) in this way".— AS English (@English_AS) June 18, 2014
Cristian Nyari of The New York Times felt that Casillas wasn't the primary source of Spain's troubles:
People focusing too much on Casillas's form. This would have happened with anyone in goal. Not really the point.— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) June 18, 2014
Spain's attack is to blame, though, and Costa just wasn't quite fit to perform for whatever reason, per Opta Sports:
0 - Diego Costa has failed to register a single shot on target in his 126 minutes of play at the World Cup 2014 (5 shots). Exhausted.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 18, 2014
Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead provided a scathing assessment of Costa's ineffectiveness and conduct on the pitch:
Terribly small sample size, but not impressed w/ Spain's Diego Costa. Whiner, looks slow, dives more than he creates. #LetsseeTorres— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) June 18, 2014
Andres Cordero of beINSPORTS stuck up for the Spanish star:
Those of you talking about Diego Costa as a system guy... He scored 10 goals in 16 games for Rayo. You're embarrassing yourselves.— Andres Cordero (@DreCordero) June 18, 2014
But by the time the 64th minute rolled around, Spain manager Vicente del Bosque had seen enough, per Fox Soccer Trax:
64 Torres replaces Diego Costa for Spain; Gutierrez on for Aranguiz for Chile— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) June 18, 2014
Costa drew controversy for opting to play for Spain rather than Brazil. Now that decision has backfired for sure, since his club has been officially eliminated.
ESPN's Miguel Delaney felt that Costa's fit on Spain's front line was rather doomed to fail as it was:
Costa just wide. Spain's impotent toil also now very reminiscent of France in 2002, especially Denmark game.— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) June 18, 2014
As Casillas implied after the match, Spain have a lot of rebuilding to do before dreaming of World Cup contention in 2018. How the team is developed will be fascinating to see in the coming years, as much of the experienced nucleus will no longer be able to contribute in the next tournament. This truly is the end of an era for Spain, and the next wave of talent has a lot to live up to.
Meanwhile, knocking off the defending champions has to give Chile a world of confidence heading into the knockout stage. Although Casillas is to thank for some of his mistakes and Spain's inept attack was hard on the eyes, Chile have a lot of speed in the backfield and have been opportunistic in securing six points.
It's a shame that Casillas, 33, has to go out like this, but Spain fans can look forward to better goalkeeping next time around. As for Costa's prospects in 2018, he can't fare much worse than he did in this tournament, either.