Spain’s dominance of world football is officially over, and a shattered nation must rebuild from the soggy depths of Chile’s figurative alimentary canal.
The art of tiki-taka, which loosely translates as ‘hogging the ball’, had bamboozled opponents during Spain’s 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 triumphs.
At Euro 2012, Spain’s dominance of possession was complete and devastating, causing several opponents to give up entirely mid-game through despondency and boredom.
In the final win over Italy, Xavi and Andres Iniesta at one point exchanged 16,000 consecutive passes for a cumulative gain of four yards. The effect on the Italian defence was profound; suffering from extreme motion sickness, the Italians capitulated in a tidal wave of fear, despair and the afternoon’s carbonara.
But at this World Cup, Spain’s spell has been broken.
Holland trounced Vicente del Bosque’s men 5-1 when they refused to be lulled by the rocking motion of Spain’s monotonous passing routine, instead focusing on the steady constant of Del Bosque’s paint-brush moustache on the horizon and waiting for their opponents to slip up.
And Chile brought the curtain down on the era of tiki-taka with a ruthless display of no-nonsense counter-attacking that swept aside Spain’s all-nonsense approach once and for all.
The Chileans had the cutting edge of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal that Spain lacked, and dismissed tiki-taka with initial interest, followed by vigorous engagement and finally the aloof disdain with which one would regard an undersized mint.
The Spanish left only the briefest of tastes in the mouth in Rio, sweet but ultimately unsatisfying, before being swept up in a metaphorical deluge of teeth and mucus and disintegrating, leaving Chile to wonder if they were ever there at all.
It’s now up to Spain to re-invent themselves and find a new style of football to dominate the world – it is likely to be some form of Cambridge United-esque Route One, or Camino Uno, as the Spanish like to call it.
Many in Spain feel that this is the ideal time to turn to Sam Allardyce, who has long been tipped for the post, but John Beck may also enter the frame. Alternatively, Spain may take the more attractive option of giving up on football altogether and focusing on pelota.