How do you end a disastrous World Cup campaign?
When you still are the reigning champions (until such time a new champion is named by July 13), you go out in style. And in style they did, scoring three goals against Australia to salvage pride, and the belief that the champions can bounce back and return.
David Villa scored from a cheeky backheel in open play right before halftime. It was classic Villa—shifty, crafty, and somewhat unorthodox. It was a reminder of how Spain played in (and won) the World Cup four years ago.
It was the fitting swan song for the man who has cemented himself as Spain’s all-time highest goalscorer in international competitions, and when he was subbed out in the 56th minute, the tears just flowed. It is all too much to take in that we will never see David Villa at this level ever again.
One of two other men who scored Spain’s goals was the much-maligned Fernando Torres, who never really found his form four years on. Ah, but El Niño will always be the Great Hope of Spanish Football, eventually finding the back of the net in the 69th minute.
Juan Mata hit the nail in the coffin with a nutmeg on Australia’s goalkeeper in the 82nd minute.
Andres Iniesta played a brilliant game on his 100th cap for Spain. As for the youngsters, apart from Mata, Koke was fearless in taking his shots—a portend of the good things to come.
Surely, it was not the kind of run that we all expected, but we are consoled by the fact that the Spain of the old was still present. It may just need new blood, fresh legs, and an evolution in style, but if anything, this rather emotional non-bearing game made us see that the heart of a champion is still there.
Onto Euro 2016, and a much-deserved rest for the players. ¡Gracias campeones!