World champions out

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The world champions are out. Spain are gone. The first to depart this tournament, mathematically and in spirit, if not in body, along with Australia. A deserved victory by Chile in the Maracana stadium leaves Vicente Del Bosque’s team with no way back. Their goal difference, from two matches, is minus six. This truly is a seismic development for football.

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The question now is not whether the era of tika-taka is over with this result, but whether it ever existed in the first place.

Watching Spain’s capitulation in this competition it is impossible not to wonder: was tiki-taka not just 11 great players all along.

What if it wasn’t the system that made those teams wonderful, but the players who had the technical ability to seemingly fashion a philosophy?

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The demise of tiki-take does seem to have coincided with the advance in years of Xavi, and to a lesser extent, Andres Iniesta. Why can’t the next generation playing tiki-taka, too. Of course, they are, just not as well. Just as other Dutch teams play total football – but not like Johann Cruyff.

Chile won, not comfortably, but well. Spain, two goals down by half-time, threw the lot at them in the second-half, but it was never enough.

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Diego Costa missed a fine chance, and then set an equally good one up for Sergio Busquets, which he scuffed wide. At the other end, Mauricio Isla should have made it three to Chile.

The South Americans tooks time and rhythm from the game with a succession of dramatic collapses to the turf after routine physical contact, but their win was no less deserved for that. Their work-rate was phenomenal, much of their finishing clinical, their back three heroic.

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Holland’s five goal had obviously had an effect on confidence, but that result should have made it harder for Spain’s second opponents, if anything.

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This was a game Spain had to win to stay in. Instead, as goalkeeper Claudio Bravo repelled an Iniesta shot with six minutes to go, the reality began to sink in. Spain were out after two games – the poorest defence of any world champions.

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Tiki your way out of that.

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