They swept everyone aside to win Euro 2008. Then, in 2010, they won the World Cup. As if that wasn’t enough, they then became the first team in sporting history to win three successive major tournaments with victory in this summers European Championships over Italy.
Along with Brazil, Spain were widely tipped as favourites to win Gold at the Olympics. It would have been four major honours in as many years, a winning steak which would have seen them become the first country to hold the World Cup, European Championship and Olympic titles at the same time.
That’s why it is such a breath of fresh air to see them crash out of the Group Stages of the men’s football last night with just one point to their name and having failed to find the back of the net even once.
It shows that whilst Spain have looked imperious both abroad and domestically over the last four years, with Barcelona winning the Champions League in 2009 and again in 2011, they are not unbeatable.
Sure, Spain didn’t exactly take the competition all together too seriously, certainly not as seriously as tournament favourites Brazil who boast the likes of Neymar, Pato and Hulk in their ranks, but they still had three of the members of the Euro 2012 winning team in their 23-man squad. Juan Mata, Jordi Alba and Javi Martinez were all included, as was Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea and Barcelona’s Martin Montoya, Thiago Alcantara and Cristian Tello.
They were expected to do better than this.
Back to back defeats to Japan and Honduras had already sealed their fate before this lackluster 0-0 draw with Morocco – this was merely the completing of formalities. The filling in of the paperwork.
This was a young squad, predominantly, who were vying for a chance to put themselves on the highest pedestal of what is the paparazzi laden, camera flashing stage of the Olympic Games. Some of this young team may well compete at the World Cup when it comes to Brazil in a couple of years.
To see them not just defeated, but finish rock bottom of their group in qualifying, will provide some of us with hope that maybe the next name to be etched onto the Jules Rimet is something over than “España”. Maybe this is a little slither of hope that this period of Spanish dominance is coming to an end.
To see Great Britain still in with a shot of a medal in the men’s football is terrific. With all due respect to South Korea, we should beat them this coming Saturday to progress to the Semi-Final for a shot at at least bronze. With two gold medals won already and Spain out of the running, there’s no stopping us now!
Unless it goes to penalties.