Sometimes, after a disheartening loss, players scramble to place blame elsewhere – the referee, match-time conditions, the opposition. Sometimes, they’ll simply say nothing at all.
But after Spain’s shock defeat on Friday, in which the reigning champions crumpled 5-1 under the power of the Netherlands’ shots, saying nothing wasn’t an option. Officials couldn’t be blamed, as Spain’s one goal came from a rather soft penalty awarded to Diego Costa.
So, despite the rather embarrassing loss, Spain’s players stood tall and placed blame appropriately: on themselves.
Iker Casillas gave what was arguably the worst performance of his career. You could find fault with his play on nearly every goal Holland scored: he was off his line, he failed to jump, he pushed the ball to Robin van Persie’s waiting foot…but at least the goalkeeper is willing to admit that he had a bad day. Casillas said, “the first thing I have to do is offer a mea culpa. This is the worst performance of my career. We have to say sorry. Holland were very good: we were the complete opposite. ”
Defender Sergio Ramos may have said, “this is not a day to point the finger or blame any one in particular,” but he also turned that finger right on himself, stating, “We have to look at ourselves, starting with me. I should have played much better.”
Xavi put it more bluntly: “We did everything badly today. It was a debacle. This is the worst defeat of my career. It is difficult because this was a resounding failure.”
Spain may be down, but they’re not yet out. Assuming they can fend off Australia’s crosses, they won’t have to worry much about taking all three points from the final match. Chile, however, may prove a much trickier test – they proved on Friday that their controlled chaos will likely get them past any defense.
Xabi Alonso, however, remains confident. “It is a terrible blow,” the midfielder said, “but fortunately we have another chance to turn it round. The game against Chile is a final for us now.”