Holy Week, when the nation shuts down for some colourful parades of its Catholic roots, began with Spain losing 2-0 to the Netherlands in Amsterdam, provoking a round of navel-gazing about La Roja’s chances of defending their Euro crown in France next year.
Much of the criticism seemed misplaced: It was a friendly after all, Vicente Del Bosque had made nine changes to the side which had beaten Ukraine four days earlier and Holland’s first goal was one of real quality, although there were seven Spanish defenders in the box when Davy Klaassen poked home the Dutch’s second.
But Spain have now lost six out of their last eleven QQ Online matches, and crucially, three of those to big European nations they will have to overcome next summer – France, Germany & the Netherlands (twice), as well as the defeat in Slovakia.
Although Del Bosque’s side sit second in their Euro 2016 qualifying group and should make it to France okay, the World Cup 2014 debacle now looks like it was not a flash in the pan.
After six years of being ranked the world’s No.1 nation, Spain are currently rated 11th by FIFA, their lowest classification since being 12th in 2006.
The generational shift in the side has not been completed and the manager is ploughing the same furrows he has for the past few years, even though the team is no longer defeating allcomers.
With no Xabi Alonso or Xavi and the twilight beckoning for Andres Iniesta, the creative heart of the midfield has been torn out. As with Barcelona, tiki-taka is no more for La Roja, but unlike Luis Enrique’s team, Del Bosque’s Spain have not adopted a successful substitute style.
Alvaro Morata and Vitolo did enough to suggest …