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:
Serge Fagelman of LBC called out the two prominent Spaniards for their lackluster form on the big international football stage:
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:
Heidi N. Moore of The Guardian was having a hard time justifying Casillas' play between the posts:
AFP's Tom Williams felt Spain were essentially doomed following Aranguiz's goal:
Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey made a simple yet effective political analogy to describe the action:
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:
Cristian Nyari of The New York Times felt that Casillas wasn't the primary source of Spain's troubles:
Spain's attack is to blame, though, and Costa just wasn't quite fit to perform for whatever reason, per Opta Sports:
Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead provided a scathing assessment of Costa's ineffectiveness and conduct on the pitch:
Andres Cordero of beINSPORTS stuck up for the Spanish star:
But by the time the 64th minute rolled around, Spain manager Vicente del Bosque had seen enough, per Fox Soccer Trax:
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:
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.
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