RIO DE JANEIRO >> With its superstars aging and its loyal coach slow to blend in young talent, Spain’s glorious reign as the superpower of world football was bound to end.
The Spanish weren’t favored to repeat as World Cup champion. But few expected the utter collapse that ended Wednesday with a 2-0 loss to Chile, knocking Spain from contention and ending the run of the greatest team of the century.
Chile’s pace and skill produced a dominating win similar to so many Spanish victories over the past six years. Spain was outplayed, out-run and out-fought.
The 5-1 beating by the Netherlands Friday was shocking and foretold where coach Vicente del Bosque’s team was heading: Home.
"If you think about everything accomplished, and you told me we would be eliminated in group stage, I wouldn’t believe you," del Bosque said. "We have no excuses. It’s a sad day for all of the players."
Six of Spain’s squad has played at least 100 national team games while winning the 2010 World Cup and the European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
"Success is not eternal," said Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli, whose hyperactive energy around the dugout was shared by his team. "It’s very special the fact we were able to play today against the World Cup champions the way we did."
Chile came close to scoring twice in the first 90 seconds, before taking the lead in the 20th minute when Eduardo Vargas finished a slick move of incisive passing that was truly Spanish in its execution.
The second followed in the 43th when Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas punched a free kick to the feet of Charles Aranguiz, who fired a rising shot right back past the veteran captain.