Last week, Spain, the reigning champions of the World Cup, suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat at the hands of a very successful Netherlands team. Almost immediately, critics howled that this defeat highlighted the presence of cracks in this Spanish side, and even signified the end of nearly four years of Spanish soccer’s domination. However, a different group of critics would say that Spain’s loss was just an outlier and that they, like any world-class team, would rebound to win their next game. But which group of critics was right? Is Spain still the best team in the world? Or is their reign of soccer finally over? Today Spain played against Chile; this fixture served as a defining moment for Spain, as they had the opportunity to prove either group of critics wrong.
The first defining moment of this game came in the 20th minute, when Chile intercepted a Spanish pass and quickly ran up the field. A cleverly placed ball would eventually put Chilean forward Eduardo Vargas alone with Spanish goalkeeper, Iker Casillas. Casillas, anticipating a quick shot, desperately dove to the left side of the goal. However, Vargas, instead of shooting, dribbled to the right of the diving Casillas, and then took the shot. Because Casillas was out of position, he was unable to do anything but watch the ball burst into the Spanish net, putting Spain at a disadvantage once again.
Things went from bad to worse for the Spaniards at the end of the first half, when Chilean midfielder Charles Aranguiz received the ball in the box. He quickly shot the ball into the top right corner of the Spanish net, beating Casillas and essentially ending Spain’s hopes of winning the game. The final score was 2-0, officially eliminating Spain from the World Cup (as it is impossible for them to still finish as one of the top two in their group).
As the defending champions leave the soccer world’s most prestigious tournament, one must come to the conclusion that, for now, the Spanish monopoly on soccer is over. Coming into this World Cup, FIFA’s rankings showed Spain to be the number one team in the world. Coming out of this tournament, I can promise that Spain will be number one no longer. Going home, the Spanish will have a lot of thinking to do — not only about their present situation, but also about their team’s future.
Score: 2 (Chile) – 0 (Spain)
Eduardo Vargas (Chile) – 20th minute
Charles Aranguiz (Chile) – 43rd minute
Man of the Match: Eduardo Vargas
He scored the opening goal, the goal that caused Spanish fans to doubt the skill of their own team. Scoring against any team in a World Cup is difficult, let alone scoring a goal against the defending World Cup champions. However, this man managed to do it, and therefore, he deserves to be the Man of the Match.