Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 19th 2014 Contents A67
Thursday, June 19, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
RIO DE JANEIRO---The king is
dead. The World Cup will have
a new champion.
Just like France in 2002 and
Italy in 2010, defending champion
Spain is going home tail between
its legs after losing 2-0 to Chile
But the Netherlands, the other
winner yesterday, defeating Australia 3-2, look
like an increasingly good prospect to take the
throne Spain vacated.
Chile delivered the mortal blow to an uninter-
rupted 6-year era of dominance for Spain, the
European and world champions whose dazzling
footballers ran out of puff in Brazil. They were
made to look vulnerable last week in losing 5-1
to the Netherlands and then simply plain ordinary
by a physical and quick Chilean side.
Fevered Chilean supporters rocked the Maracana
Stadium with chants of "Chile, we love you!"
They will be able to recount how they saw their
team put two goals without reply past one of the
greatest teams global football has ever seen.
Demolishing Spain showed the Dutch can be
spectacular. Toughing out a come-from-behind
3-2 victory against Australia showed them to also
be resilient and cool under pressure --- vital qualities
for the knockout rounds that start June 28.
With no points from its first two games, Spain
will play for pride when it meets Australia--- also
winless in its first two games---in their last match
Group B match on Monday.
Then it will be "adios" and a return home to
the inevitable post-mortem of how a team that
played like clockwork in defending its European
title two years ago could fall so far, so quickly.
In Brazil, the advancing age of key players, griev-
ous mistakes from captain Iker Casillas and others,
and coach Vicente del Bosque s failure to read the
writing on the wall fatally threw the Spanish
machine out of gear.
But Spain s demise was also a reminder of how
fiendishly difficult it is to retain the World Cup
and for coaches to keep teams
fresh and motivated in the four-
year gap between tournaments.
Only Italy---winners in 1934
and 1938---and Brazil---champions
in 1958 and 1962---have won
back-to-back World Cups.
Del Bosque came to Brazil with
a goalkeeper, Casillas, who is no
longer undisputed No 1 at his club, Real Madrid,
with a midfield playmaker, Xavi Hernandez, who
at 34 is passed his peak, and with a new striker,
Diego Costa, who has been a major disappoint-
ment, not finding the net once.
Costa s presence was meant to introduce a mus-
cular new threat up front for a team that often
played without a recognised centre-forward in
winning Euro 2012. But instead, Spain looked
unbalanced in Brazil. Not once has it scored in
open play. Spain s only goal against the Netherlands
was a penalty that Xabi Alonso put away.
Alonso was awful against Chile. Del Bosque
took him off after the first half. Together, Alonso
and Xavi---benched and unused Wednesday after
an ineffectual game against the Netherlands--- as
well as Casillas and defender Sergio Ramos have
played a total of more than 500 games for Spain.
But Spain simply looked jaded in Brazil. Attacks
against Chile were sluggish and predictable.
Chances went to waste.
Australia, the World Cup s lowest-ranked team,
proved a far tougher opponent for the Netherlands
than the Spanish were last week.
Arjen Robben opened the scoring for the Nether-
lands before Tim Cahill brought the sides level a
minute later with a stunning volley that was one
of the best goals from the tournament so far.
Mile Jedinak then converted a 54th minute
penalty and Robin van Persie equalized for the
Netherlands with his third goal of the tourna-
A goalkeeping blunder by Maty Ryan handed
substitute Memphis Depay his first international
goal and the Netherlands the winner. (AP)
Soccer fans celebrate as they watch a live broadcast of Chile's Charles Aranguiz scoring his side's second
goal against Spain, inside the FIFA Fan Fest area on Copacabana beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
yesterday. Chile defeated Spain 2-0 in their group B World Cup match. AP PHOTO
The reign of
Spain is over
RIBEIRAO PRETO---Though the atmosphere in
France s World Cup squad is better than it has been
for many years, Patrice Evra knows that the guillotine
of public opinion will be waiting if there s any repeat
of its troubles in 2010.
Evra was captain when the squad created controversy
at the 2010 World Cup by refusing to get off the bus
for practice in protest at the exclusion of their team-
mate, Nicolas Anelka.
"I think 2010 consumed all of my energy, I took
everything to heart. Now, with experience, I m able
to take a step back," Evra yesterday told a news con-
ference. "I know that if I make the slightest false step,
there are some people who are capable of getting the
guillotine out again. I m not crazy."
Evra served a five-match ban and was widely vilified
by the French media for his role in the strike. Although
he played at the European Championship two years
ago, he was a peripheral figure under former coach
Laurent Blanc. That squad was also marred by disputes
and conflict, which has not been the case so far in
"I ve been in a lot of squads but this one is scary
because everything s going well. At the dinner table,
players say Pat, imagine if we all played together for
the same club. It goes to show how they don t want
this adventure to end" Evra said.
"The team spirit is beyond reproach. But the day
we start thinking that everything is easy and behaving
like stars then we ll fail. I ve got a lot of respect for
our opponents, but our number one opponent is
France (ourselves). Since France beat Ukraine 3-0 in
the second leg of their World Cup playoff, having lost
the first leg 2-0, the disgruntled fans are once more
lending their hard-earned support.
"The French were scared to believe in this team.
The Ukraine match changed that and now they really
believe," Evra said. "More than 17 million watched
our first match (on television) and that s huge. When
you feel that whole country behind you it makes you
so proud and you want to give more."
The 33-year-old Evra, who stands to win his 60th
cap against Switzerland in Friday s match, says the
players are desperate not to disappoint again.
"The French must be proud of us at the end of the
World Cup, whatever happens," he said. "When they
see us giving us everything on the pitch, respecting
this jersey, then they can say they gave everything. "
not to behave
France's Patrice Evra gets the ball away from
Honduras' Andy Najar during the group E World
Cup soccer match between France and Honduras at
the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, Brazil,
Sunday. AP PHOTO
SAO PAULO---At England s
beachside hotel in Rio de
Janeiro it was captain Steven
Gerrard who tried to raise
the spirits of his demoralised
teammates. They hadn t
been outplayed by Italy in
their World Cup opener---
far from it---but still go into
today s game with Uruguay
on zero points in Group D.
Addressing the squad,
Gerrard told them to be "real-
ly proud of the effort and
commitment," but the 112-
cap veteran also delivered a
warning: lose against
Uruguay and they are bound
to be back on the plane to
England next week.
"Realise it could be a ter-
rible long, frustrating sum-
mer if we don t get it right
on Thursday," Gerrard
recalled telling the team on
"There is no hiding place
for a player when you go out
of a tournament. You go
home earlier than you expect.
It can be tough as a player
and it can take an awful long
time to get over it."
Gerrard knows that only
too well, having never pro-
gressed further than the
quarterfinals at two World
Cups and two European
Championships with Eng-
land. It wasn t a message to
scare any of the lads but a
wake-up call to everyone in
the room, staff, players," Ger-
rard said. "That is the reality
of where we are and we need
everyone focused and right
on it to perform individually
and collectively on Thurs-
There is confidence in the
England camp, with the play-
ers taking heart from the
glowing praise back home
following the spirited attack-
ing endeavor displayed by the
newcomers in the 2-1 loss to
"Two years ago against the
same opposition in Italy we
got criticized for being on the
edge of our own box, show-
ing no bravery or ambition
going forward," Gerrard said.
"Anyone who watched Sat-
urday s game can t point a
finger at England for lacking
commitment, desire, guts
and bravery going forward.
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