Diego Simeone, who steered Atletico Madrid to their thrilling La Liga triumph, has joined us as Sony Coaching Ambassador for the World Cup. In his first exclusive column, he looks at the reasons behind Spain’s early exit in Brazil
Spain made us fall in love with the football we saw at Barcelona. It was an incredible moment which brought together a wonderful group of individuals – and the results were there for all to see.
Today, that moment is not the same as before and all the rest are always looking to try to beat them, to beat Barcelona and to beat Spain – so it’s logical some have found the formula for competing against them.
I consider that football is a game in which the rival is sometimes superior and in that respect, both Netherlands and Chile played better, with more intensity and identified the best way to play against Spain.
Football is very changeable. Spain’s players will have gone to the World Cup aiming to give their best, but when another team prepares as well as you and competes as you do, playing with more intensity and more aggressively, you can end up losing.
There was no Xavi against Chile, but Spain didn’t depend totally upon Xavi . . . they depended on a collective which dominated possession and was also very solid. In the last World Cup, Spain never won by more than two goals. But in this one, they have been unable to repeat that possession, with Xavi or without Xavi, and they haven’t been solid either.
With the result as it is, it would also be very easy to say that Diego Costa didn’t work out. Spain were used to playing at one rhythm and one pace, while Costa offers other characteristics. If you don’t take advantage of Costa’s runs, you isolate him.
He likes to exploit the spaces, to attack from deep positions and to get on the end of final passes, but Spain’s football focuses more on the collective. Playing that collective game, Spain haven’t performed at their best, nor were they able to take advantage of Costa and the characteristics he brings.
A coach knows why he picked the players he picked. I have never wanted to interfere or talk about that. And it wouldn’t be fair to talk about changes, either. Spain have always played this way and done really well playing this way. Those calling for a ‘Plan B’ should have done so when everyone was speaking wonders of Spain and the way they played.
The reality is that if others prepare to win and compete to win, sometimes they do better than you. And that’s what happened to Spain. That’s football. This time they lost, but I’m sure Spain will be back competing again – just like they have done for the last 10 years.