Many questions have been asked and analysis aplenty offered, but it’s not easy to find a unanimous explanation for Spain’s failure at the FIFA World Cup Brazil™ 2014 - and perhaps only time will add perspective to the pain.
Santi Cazorla has formed part of this group since 2008. Luis Aragones selected him for the UEFA European Championships that year in what was a surprise call-up in a competition which proved a revelation for Spain as the dream began for this team. The midfielder has been a regular fixture for La Roja ever since, although he missed the 2010 FIFA World Cup through injury.
Cazorla has tasted sweet success with Spain. This time though, after a reduced role (he has only played 15 minutes against Chile in this competition), failure is a bitter pill to swallow for the Arsenal man. “We have to stick together, support each other through the good and the bad. We are committed and we want to improve. We have shown that in the training sessions. We are still working really hard,” he revealed in conversation with FIFA.
There is a promising future ahead for Spain.
“The group is very strong. We are facing up to some very tough and difficult moments because we were very motivated and we believed we could give our fans what they wanted. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out that way because in football, anything can happen,” he added.
The 29-year-old, always smiling, is more serious now. He takes a look back and continues to analyse what went wrong for Spain. “About two years ago things started to change. Our rivals are now able to cause us a lot of harm. Now, they know our style – and they aren’t afraid any more. They are more aggressive in their play and pressure us a lot. We know it will be more difficult from now on and that we’ll have to give it everything to move up to the next level.”
Even though their hopes of retaining the World Cup have evaporated, Spain still have one last commitment in Brazil: their final Group B game against Australia, also eliminated after two matches; a chance to play for some pride.
“I think it’s a very important match and we have to be professionals. We need to forget what has come before. It’s terrible to have been knocked out, but it has been an honour to have played for the Spanish national team,” said the Arsenal midfielder.
“We have to look forward and close out this experience in the best way possible – by defending the honour of our country. Australia is the first step on the road to rebuilding; we cannot relax,” he said, before adding with determination: “There is a promising future ahead for Spain.”
The former Villarreal and Malaga playmaker was also keen to defend his country's golden generation with one last comment concerning the criticism this Spain side has received. “My team-mates are unique players, they have made history for Spain, helping the country achieve something that had never been done. They deserve honour for that and we should be very grateful for the work they have put in. They are formidable players, but also incredible people.”
“We want to be world champions again. This time we weren’t good enough, but that doesn’t ruin what was achieved before. We are the only team to have won a Euro-World Cup-Euro in succession. That’s something very difficult to achieve, but we hope to repeat those results one day.”