What's Next for Spain After Disappointing World Cup Exit in Brazil?

Rik SharmaFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2014

Spain are looking to recover from their horrendous tournament.
Spain are looking to recover from their horrendous tournament.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Spain's 3-0 win over Australia, a dead rubber in tournament terms, was the end of an era and far more important than deciding who finished third and fourth in the group.

David Villa, arguably their best striker and certainly their most successful on the international stage, scored a brilliant backheel goal and left the pitch in tears.

Vicente del Bosque took him off for Juan Mata after 55 minutes—surprisingly early given the vibrancy of the striker's display.

David Villa said goodbye.
David Villa said goodbye.Michael Sohn/Associated Press

Villa sobbed on the bench; if Del Bosque had displayed the same ruthlessness earlier in the tournament with some of the misfiring players, Spain may still be in it.

El Guaje is Spain's top World Cup scorer, notching nine in 12 games.

The second goalscorer against Australia was Fernando Torres, another who may not feature for La Roja again.

He finished coolly from the left after being cleverly played in by Andres Iniesta.

Iniesta himself was brilliant, as he usually is.

He will survive the axe as Spain start to look to younger options to rebuild a side that can challenge for Euro 2016.

Iniesta will remain a key part of the team.
Iniesta will remain a key part of the team.Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Legendary Barcelona star Xavi, injured, watched on as Atletico Madrid star Koke took his place in midfield.

He has almost certainly played his last game for his country, given his age and impending move to Qatar, per Sport.

Koke was an impressive performer as Spain eased to victory, looking very comfortable. 

Much of the rest of Spain's team will have a new look. 

Pepe Reina replaced Iker Casillas in goal, but only because David De Gea was injured.

It's difficult not to envisage the Manchester United goalkeeper being Spain's custodian for the best part of the next decade.

Juanfran, at right-back, impressed, and he will fight with Cesar Azpilicueta for a place there.

In midfield we could see Mata, who notched the third for Spain, take on more of a role.

That, of course, depends on if his club form with Manchester United picks up.

The likes of Mata may have more chances now.
The likes of Mata may have more chances now.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Arsenal's Santi Cazorla may also get more opportunities with Xavi out of the picture.

Del Bosque offered us little clues over the future striker of choice, with Diego Costa left on the bench after two poor displays against the Netherlands and Chile.

Real Madrid's Jese and Alvaro Morata may have something to say about the Spanish striking role, but you would fancy Costa to get another chance, either under Del Bosque or a new coach.

So while Spain's win over Australia offered a chance for some older faces to say goodbye, the green shoots of recovery are already starting to grow.